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And Other Stories 




i * 

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DECEMBER, 1 959 lis* I *\ JL V VOL. 1 8, NO. 2 


Also Published in 
Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Finland and Sweden 



PROSPECTOR'S SPECIAL by Robert Sheckley 8 

THE UNDETECTED by George O. Smith 60 

CHARITY CASE by Jim Harmon 118 

BLACKSWORD by A. J. Offutt 164 


FLOWER ARRANGEMENT by Rose/ George Brown 32 

SALES TALK by Con Blomberg 48 

WAR GAME by Philip K. Dick 91 

THE SNOWMEN by Frederik Pohl 141 

SABBATICAL by Robert Bloch 155 



Dead or Alive? 

EDITOR'S PAGE by H. L. Gold 6 


GALAXY'S FIVE STAR SHELF by Floyd C. Gale 150 


ROBERT M. GUINN, Publisher H. L GOLD, Editor 

WILLY LEY, Science Editor W. I. VAN DER POEL, Art Director 

JOAN J. De MARIO, Asst. to the Publisher SONDRA GRESEN, Asst. to Editor 

GALAXY MAGAZINE is published bi-monthly by Galaxy Publishing Corporation. Main offices: 
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year in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South and Central America and U. S. Possessions. 
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New York 1959, by Galaxy Publishing Corporation, Robert M. Guinn, president. All rights, includ- 
ing translations reserved. All material submitted must be accompanied by self-addressed stamped 
envelopes. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All stories printed in 
this magazine are fiction, and any similarity between characters and actual persons is coincidental. 

Printed In the U.S.A. by The Guinn Co., Inc., N. Y. Title Reg. U.S. Pat. Off. 



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IheVnpuMtikdZacU. o§ Mfe 

THERE are some things that cannot 
be generally told — things you ought to 
know. Great truths are dangerous to 
some — but factors for personal power 
and accomplishment in the hands of 
those who understand them. Behind 
the tales of the miracles and mysteries 
of the ancients, lie centuries of their 
secret probing into nature's laws — 
their amazing discoveries of the hid- 
den processes of man's mind, and the 
mastery of life's problems. Once shroud- 
ed in mystery to avoid their destruc- 
tion by mass fear and ignorance, these 
facts remain a useful heritage for the 
thousands of men and women who pri- 
vately use them in their homes today. 


The Rosicrucians (not a religious 

organization) an age-old brotherhood 
of learning, have preserved this secret 
wisdom in their archives for centu- 
ries. They now invite you to share the 
practical helpfulness of their teachings. 
Write today for a free copy of the 
book, "The Mastery of Life." Within 
its pages may lie a new life of oppor- 
tunity for you. Address: Scribe M.J.B. 


Scribe M.J.B. 


San Jose, California 

Please send me the free book,TA* Mastery 
of Life, which explains how I may learn to 
use my faculties and powers of mind. 

Name • 

\ Address 

! City. 

W5e Rosicrucians 



WITH no place to put mail, the 
wonderful stuff accumulates 
— but if it turns out that you like 
this editorial handling of it AND 
keep replenishing the supply, there 

will be a place for it, and we won't 
have the guiltily selfish feeling of 
not being able to share. Just take 
a look at this hoard. 

Name Withheld, N.Y., sent us 
an 1872 list of rules for teachers: 

A. Teachers each day will fill lamps, 
clean chimneys, and trim wicks. 

B. Each teacher will bring a bucket of 
water and a scuttle of coal for the day's 

C. Make your pens carefully. You may 
whittle nibs to the individual tastes of 
the pupils. 

D. Men teachers may take one evening 
each week for courting purposes, or two 
evenings a week if they go to church 

E. After ten hours in school, the teach- 
ers should spend the remaining time 
reading the Bible or other good books. 

F. Women teachers who marry or en- 
gage in unseemly conduct will be dis- 

G. Every teacher should lay aside from 
each pay a goodly sum of his earnings 
for his benefit during his declining years 
so that he will not become a burden on 

H. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor 
in any form, frequents pool or public 
halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will 
give good reason to suspect his worth, in- 
tentions, integrity, and honesty. 
I. The teacher who performs his labors 
faithfully and without fault for five years 

will be given an increase of 25£ per 
week in his pay, providing the Board of 

Education approves. 

V Winifred Northrun 


Name Withheld adds : "I'd hate 
having to share the Earth with 
Miss Northrun. I can't say I'd like 
having ever-young flappers or bob- 
by-soxers around any better. Let's 
not jump into this immortality 
thing, shall we?" 

All right, but let's not put it off 
till every last little bug is worked 

As a courtesy to Fritz Lang, who 
made "Metropolis," "The Girl in 
the Moon" and other early science 
fiction films, we run this free ad: 
"Galaxy from 1st issue to end of 
1957; Astounding from 1933 to 
end of 1957; Weird Tales from 
1935 to 1957; all complete. Best 
offer. Write c/o Willy Ley, this 
magazine." Lang has gone back to 



Germany, expects to spend the rest 
of his life there, can get the Ger- 
man edition of Galaxy. Free-ad 
courtesy is extended only to mak- 
ers of early s-f films, and to the fol- 
lowing : 

"Galaxy will be available on 
tape for blind science fiction en- 
thusiasts, if enough apply to make 
the project possible. For informa- 
tion, write 'Tape-Respondents, In- 
ternational; Blind Services Com- 
mittee; Roy H. Trumbull, Assistant 

Director, P.O. Box 247, Corte 
Madera, Calif. 

Quite some time back this de- 
partment assembled evidence that 
There Are Aliens Among Us. Here 
is further evidence sent in by read- 

James J. Davidson, Haddon- 
field, N. J.: "In the March 1958 
issue of Scientific American ap- 
peared an advertisement by Amer- 
ican Optical Co., Instrumentation 
Division, concerning their micro- 
scopes, that read in part : ' You can 
adapt the Microstar to your exact 
needs with various combinations of 
interchangeable bodies, stages, 
bases and optics . . . Choice of 3 in- 
terchangeable full 360° rota table 
bodies, monocular, binocular, and 
trinocular; inclined for comfort . . .' 
Inclined how for whose comfort? 
Not mine — though I'd rather meet 
an inclined trinocular being than 
one standing up." 

Keith Newburgh, Christchurch, 
N. Z., offers this Wellington clip- 

ping: "The problem of where the 
flies go in winter is nothing like the 
problem the National Roads Board 
has with its traffic tallies on the 
motorway around the head of 
Auckland Harbour. Figures pre- 
sented to the board today showed 
the count at 8000 vehicles at one 
point on the motorway. At another 
check point, 3 miles or so further 
on, the number of vehicles had 
dropped to 5000. Transport De- 
partment men said there were 
no roads leading off the motorway 
between the two points and they 
could not explain where the other 
3000 vehicles went to." Mr. New- 
burgh believes this shows that 
aliens "are already confiscating 
motor vehicles on an enormous 
scale in order to facilitate their tak- 
ing over this planet." 

Jacob Shekel, Kiryat Motzkin, 
Israel, provides a quote from Wil- 
liam Feller's An Introduction to 
Probability Theory and its Appli- 
cations: "The essential novelty is 
that a mother can have zero, one 
or more daughters," and ask that 
we note "the quotation hints not 
only at biological differences, but a 
different logic system as well. Us- 
ing regular terran logic, I just can- 
not imagine what the converse (or 
inverse, or obverse, or any other 
verse) of that statement would be; 
so I cannot guess what the writer 
of that sentence would consider 
regular and non-novel," a comment 
(Continued on page 194) 





Lost in the vast Scorpion Desert of Venus, 

he needed all the courage a man could own 
— and every bit of credit he could raise I 



Illustrated by DILLON 

THE sandcar moved smooth- 
ly over the rolling dunes, 
its six fat wheels rising and 
falling like the ponderous rumps of 
tandem elephants. The hidden sun 
beat down from a dead-white sky, 
pouring heat into the canvas top, 
reflecting heat back from the 
parched sand. 

"Stay awake," Morrison told 
himself, pulling the sandcar back 
to its compass course. 

It was his twenty-first day on 
Venus's Scorpion Desert, his twen- 
ty-first day of fighting sleep while 
the sandcar rocked across the 
dunes, forging over humpbacked 
little waves. Night travel would 
have been easier, but there were 
too many steep ravines to avoid, 


too many house-sized boulders to 
dodge. Now he knew why men 
went into the desert in teams; one 
man drove while the other kept 
shaking him awake. 

"But it's better alone," Morrison 
reminded himself. "Half the sup- 
plies and no accidental murders." 

His head was beginning to 
droop; he snapped himself erect. 
In- front of him, the landscape 
shimmered and danced through the 
polaroid windshield. The sandcar 
lurched and rocked with treacher- 
ous gentleness. Morrison rubbed 
his eyes and turned on the radio. 

He was a big, sunburned, rangy 
young man with close-cropped 
black hair and gray eyes. He had 
come to Venus with a grubstake of 
twenty thousand dollars, to find his 
fortune in the Scorpion Desert as 
others had done before him. He had 
outfitted in Presto, the last town 
on the edge of the wilderness, and 
spent all but ten dollars on the 
sandcar and equipment. 

In Presto, ten dollars just cov- 
ered the cost of a drink in the 
town's only saloon. So Morrison or- 
dered rye and water, drank with 
the miners and prospectors, and 
laughed at the oldtimers' yaVns 
about the sandwolf packs and the 
squadrons of voracious birds that 
inhabited the interior desert. He 
knew all about sunblindness, heat- 
stroke and telephone breakdown. 
He was sure none of it would hap- 
pen to him. 

But now, after twenty-one days 
and eighteen hundred miles, he had 
learned respect for this waterless 
waste of sand and stone three times 
the area of the Sahara. You really 
could die here! 

But you could also get rich, and 
that was what Morrison planned 
to do. 

TTIS radio hummed. At full vol- 
■■"■* ume, he could hear the faint- 
est murmur of dance music from 
Venusborg. Then it faded and only 
the hum was left. 


He turned off the radio and 
gripped the steering wheel tightly 
in both hands. He unclenched one 
hand and looked at his watch. 
Nine-fifteen in the morning. At ten- 
thirty he would stop and take a 
nap. A man had to have rest in this 
heat. But only a half-hour nap. 
Treasure lay somewhere ahead of 
him, and he wanted to find it before 
his supplies got much lower. 

The precious outcroppings of 
goldenstone had to be up ahead! 
He'd been following traces for two 
days now. Maybe he would hit a 
real bonanza, as Kirk did in '89, or 
Edmonson and Arsler in '93. If so, 
he would do just what they did. 
He'd order up a Prospector's Spe- 
cial, and to hell with the cost. 

The sandcar rolled along at an 
even thirty miles an hour, and Mor- 
rison tried to concentrate on the 
heat-blasted yellow-brown land- 
scape. That sandstone patch over 



there was just the tawny color of 
Janie's hair. 

After he struck it rich, he and 
Janie would get married, and he'd 
go back to Earth and buy an ocean 
farm. No more prospecting. Just 
one rich strike so he could buy his 
spread on the deep blue Atlantic. 
Maybe some people thought fish- 
herding was tame; it was good 
enough for him. 

He could see it now, the mack- 
erel herds drifting along and brows- 
ing at the plankton pens, himself 
and his trusty dolphin keeping an 
eye out for the silvery flash of a 
predatory barracuda or a steel-gray 
shark coming along behind the 
branching coral. . . . 

Morrison felt the sandcar lurch. 
He woke up, grabbed the 'steering 
wheel and turned it hard. During 
his moments of sleep, the vehicle 
had crept over the dune's crum- 
bling edge. Sand and pebbles spun 
under the fat tires as the sandcar 
fought for traction. The car tilted 
perilously.. The^ tires shrieked 
against the sand, gripped, and start- 
ed to pull the vehicle back up the 

Then the whole face of the dune 

Morrison held onto the steering 
wheel as the sandcar flipped over 
on its side and rolled down the 
slope. Sand filled his mouth and 
eyes. He spat and held on while the 
car rolled over again and dropped 
into emptiness. 

For seconds, he was in the air. 
The sandcar hit bottom squarely 
on its wheels. Morrison heard a 
double boom as the two rear tires 
blew out. Then his head hit the 


HEN he recovered conscious- 

ness, the first thing he did was 
look at his watch. It read 10:35. 

"Time for that nap," Morrison 
said to himself. "But I guess I'll 
survey the situation first." 

He found that he was at the bot- 
tom of a shallow fault strewn with 
knife-edged pebbles. Two tires had 
blown on impact, his windshield 
was gone, and one of the doors was 
sprung. His equipment was strewn 
around, but appeared to be intact. 

"Could have been worse," Mor- 
rison said. 

He bent down to examine the 
tires more carefully. 

"It is worse," he said. 

The two blown tires were shred- 
ded beyond repair. There wasn't 
enough rubber left in them to make 
a child's balloon. He had used up 
his spares ten days back crossing 
Devil's Grill. Used them and dis- 
carded them. He couldn't go on 
without tires. 

Morrison unpacked his tele- 
phone. He wiped dust from its 
black plastic face, then dialed Al's 
Garage in Presto. After a moment, 
the small video screen lighted up. 
He could see a man's long, mourn- 
ful, grease-stained face. 



"Al's Garage. Eddie speaking." 

"Hi, Eddie. This is Tom Mor- 
rison. I bought that GM sandcar 
from you about a month ago. Re- 

"Sure I remember you," Eddie 
said. "You're the guy doing a single 
into the Southwest Track, How's 
the bus holding out?" 

"Fine. Great little car. Reason I 

"Hey," Eddie said, "what hap- 
pened to your face?" 

Morrison put his hand to his 
forehead and felt blood. "Nothing 
much," he said. "I went over a dune 
and blew out two tires." 

He turned the telephone so that 
Eddie could see the tires. 

"Unrepairable," said Eddie. 

"I thought so. And I used up all 
my spares crossing Devil's Grill. 
Look, Eddie, I'd like you to 'port 
me a couple of tires. Retreads are 
fine. I can't move the sandcar with- 
out them." 

"Sure," Eddie said, "except I 
haven't any retreads. I'll have to 
'port you new ones at five hundred 
apiece. Plus four hundred dollars 
'porting charges. Fourteen hundred 
dollars, Mr. Morrison." 

"All right." 

"Yes, sir. Now if you'll show me 
the cash, or a money order which 
you can send back with the receipt, 
I'll get moving on it." 

"At the moment," Morrison said, 
"I haven't got a cent on me." 

"Bank account?" 

"Stripped clean." 

"Bonds? Property? Anything 
you can convert into cash?" 

"Nothing except this sandcar, 
which you sold me for eight thou- 
sand dollars. When I come back, 
I'll settle my bill with the sandcar." 

"// you get back. Sorry, Mr. Mor- 
rison. No can do." 

"What do you mean?" Morrison 
asked. "You know I'll pay for the 

"And you know the rules on 
Venus," Eddie said, his mournful 
face set in obstinate lines. "No cred- 
it! Cash and carry!" 

? C T can't run the sandcar without 

tires," Morrison said. "Are 
you going to strand me out here?" 

"Who in hell is stranding you?" 
Eddie asked. "This sort of thing 
happens to prospectors every day. 
You know what you have to do 
now, Mr. Morrison. Call Public 
Utility and declare yourself a bank- 
rupt. Sign over what's left of the 
sandcar, equipment, and anything 
you've found on the way. They'll 
get you out." 

"I'm not turning back," Morrison 
said. "Look!" He held the telephone 
close to the ground. "You see the 
traces, Eddie? See those red and 
purple flecks? There's precious 
stuff near here!" 

"Every prospector sees traces," 

Eddie said. "Damned desert is full 

of traces." 

"These are rich," Morrison said. 



"These are leading straight to big 
stuff, a bonanza lode. Eddie, I know 
it's a lot to ask, but if you could 
stake me to a couple of tires—" 

"I can't do it," Eddie said. "I just 
work here. I can't 'port you any 
tires, not unless you show me 
money first. Otherwise I get fired 
and probably jailed. You know the 

"Cash and carry," Morrison said 

"Right. Be smart and turn back 
now. Maybe you can try again 
some other time." 

"I spent twelve years getting this 
stake together," Morrison said. "I'm 
not going back." 

He turned off the telephone and 
tried to think. Was there anyone 
else on Venus he could call? Only 
Max Krandall, his jewel broker. 
But Max couldn't raise fourteen 
hundred dollars in that crummy 
two-by-four office near Venus- 
borg's jewel market. Max could 
barely scrape up his own rent, 
much less take care of stranded 

"I can't ask Max for help," Mor- 
rison decided. "Not until I've found 
goldenstone. The real stuff, not just 
traces. So that leaves it up to me." 

He opened the back of the sand- 
car and began to unload, piling his 
equipment on the sand. He would 
have to choose carefully; anything 
he took would have to be carried on 
his back. 

The telephone had to go with 

him, and his lightweight testing kit. 
Food concentrates, revolver, com- 
pass. And nothing else but water, 
all the water he could carry. The 
rest of the stuff would have to stay 


By nightfall, Morrison was ready. 
He looked regretfully at the twenty 
cans of water he was leaving. In 
the desert, water was a man's most 
precious possession, second only to 
his telephone. But it couldn't be 
helped. After drinking his fill, he 
hoisted his pack and set a south- 
west course into the desert. 

For three days he trekked to the 
southwest; then on the fourth day 
he veered to due south, following 
an increasingly rich trace. The sun, 
eternally hidden, beat down on him, 
and the dead-white sky was like a 
roof of heated iron over his head. 
Morrison followed the traces, and 

something followed him. 

On the sixth day, he sensed 
movement just out of the range of 
his vision. On the seventh day, he 
saw what was trailing him. 


VENUS'S own brand of wolf, 
small, lean, with a yellow coat 
and long, grinning jaws, it was one 
of the few mammals that made its 
home in the Scorpion Desert. As 
Morrison watched, two more sand- 
wolves appeared beside it. 

He loosened the revolver in its 
holster. The wolves made no at- 
tempt to come closer. They had 
plenty of time. 



Morrison kept on going, wishing 
he had brought a rifle with him. 
But that would have meant eight 
pounds more, which meant eight 
pounds less water. 

As he was pitching camp at dusk 

the eighth day, he heard a crack- 
ling sound. He whirled around and 
located its source, about ten feet 
to his left and above his head. A 
little vortex had appeared, a tiny 
mouth in the air like a whirlpool 
in the sea. It spun, making the char- 
acteristic crackling sounds of 'port- 

"Now who could be 'porting any- 
thing to me?" Morrison asked, 
waiting while the whirlpool slowly 


Solidoporting from a base pro- 
jector to a field target was a stand- 
ard means of moving goods across 
the vast distances of Venus. Any 
inanimate object could be 'ported; 
animate beings couldn't because 
the process involved certain minor 
but distressing molecular changes 
in protoplasm. A few people had 
found this out the hard way when 
'porting was first introduced. 

Morrison waited. The aerial 
whirlpool became a mouth three 
feet in diameter. From the mouth 
stepped a chrome-plated robot car- 
rying a large sack. 

"Oh, it's you," Morrison said. 

"Yes, sir," the robot said, now 
completely clear of the field. "Wil- 
Hams 4 at your service with the 
Venus Mail." 


It was a robot of medium height, 
thin-shanked and flat-footed, hu- 
manoid in appearance, amiable in 
disposition. For twenty-three years 
it had been Venus's entire postal 
service— sorter, deliverer, and dead 
storage. It had been built to last, 
and for twenty-three years the 
mails had always come through. 

"Here we are, Mr. Morrison," 
Williams 4 said. "Only twice-a- 
month mail call in the desert, I'm 
sorry to say, but it comes promptly 
and that's a blessing. This is for 
you. And this. I think there's one 
more. Sandcar broke down, eh?" 

"It sure did," Morrison said, tak- 
ing his letters. 

Williams 4 went on rummaging 
through its bag. Although it was a 
superbly efficient postman, the old 
robot was known as the worst gos- 
sip on three planets. . 

"There's one more in here some- 
where," Williams 4 said. "Too bad 
about the sandcar. They just don't 
build 'em like they did in my youth. 
Take my advice, young man. Turn 
back if you still have the chance." 

Morrison shook his head. 

"Foolish, downright foolish," the 
old robot said. "Pity you don't have 
my perspective. Too many's the 
time I've come across you boys ly- 
ing in the sand in the dried-out sack 
of your skin, or with your bones 
gnawed to splinters by the sand- 
wolves and the filthy black kites. 
Twenty-three years I've been de- 
livering mail to fine-looking young 



men like you, and each one think- 
ing he's unique and different." 

THE robot's eyecells became 
distant with memory. "But 
they aren't different," Williams 4 
said. "They're as alike as robots off 
the assembly line — especially after 
the wolves get through with them. 
And then I have to send their let- 
ters and personal effects back to 
their loved ones on Earth." 

"I know," Morrison said. "But 
some get through, don't they?" 

"Sure they do," the robot said. 
I've seen men make one, two, 
three fortunes. And then die on the 
sands trying to make a fourth." 

"Not me," Morrison said. "I just 
want one. Then I'm going to buy 
me an undersea farm on Earth." 

The robot shuddered. "I have a 
dread of salt water. But to each his 
own. Good luck, young man." 

The robot looked Morrison over 
carefully — probably to see what 
he had in the way of personal ef- 
fects — then climbed back into the 
aerial whirlpool. In a moment, it 
was gone. In another moment, the 
whirlpool had vanished. 

Morrison sat down to read his 
mail. The first letter was from his 
jewel broker, Max Krandall. It told 
about the depression that had hit 
Venusborg, and hinted that Kran- 
dall might have to go into bank- 
ruptcy if some of his prospectors 
didn't strike something good. 

The second letter was a state- 

ment from the Venus Telephone 
Company. Morrison owed two hun- 
dred and ten dollars and eight cents 
for two months' telephone service. 
Unless he remitted this sum at 
once, his telephone was liable to 
be turned off. 

The last letter, all the way from 

Earth, was from Janie. It was filled 
with news about his cousins, aunts 
and uncles. She told him about the 
Atlantic farm sites she had looked 
over, and the wonderful little place 
she had found near Martinique in 
the Caribbean. She begged him to 
give up prospecting if it looked 
dangerous; they could find another 
way of financing the farm. She sent 
all her love and wished him a 
happy birthday in advance. 

"Birthday?" Morrison asked 
himself. "Let's see, today is July 
twenty-third. No, it's the twenty- 
fourth, and my birthday's August 
first. Thanks for remembering, 

That night he dreamed of Earth 
and the blue expanse of the At- 
lantic Ocean. But toward dawn, 
when the heat of Venus became 
insistent, he found he was dreaming 
of mile upon mile of goldenstone, of 
grinning sandwolves, and of the 
Prospector's Special. 

"O OCK gave way to sand as Mor- 
■*-** rison plowed his way across 
the bottom of a long-vanished lake. 
Then it was rock again, twisted 
and tortured into a thousand gaunt 



shapes. Reds, yellows and browns 
swam in front of his eyes. In all 
that desert, there wasn't one patch 
of green. 

He continued his trek into the 
tumbled stone mazes of the interior 
desert, and the wolves trekked with 
him, keeping pace far out on either 

Morrison ignored them. He had 
enough on his mind just to nego- 
tiate the sheer cliffs and the fields 
of broken stone that blocked his 

way to the south. 

By the eleventh day after leav- 
ing the sandcar, the traces were 
almost rich enough for panning. 
The sandwolves were tracking him 
still, and his water was almost gone. 
Another day's march would finish 

Morrison thought for a moment, 
then unstrapped his telephone and 
dialed Public Utility in Venusborg. 

The video screen showed a stern, 
severely dressed woman with iron- 
gray hair. "Public Utility," she said. 
"May we be of service?" 

"Hi," Morrison said cheerfully. 
"How's the weather in Venusborg?" 

"Hot," the woman said. "How's 
it out there?" 

"I hadn't even noticed," Morri- 
son said, grinning. "Too busy count- 
ing my fortune." 

"You've found goldenstone?" the 
woman asked, her expression be- 
coming less severe. 

"Sure have," Morrison said. "But 

still staking my claim. I think I 
can use a refill on these." 

Smiling easily, he held up his 
canteens. Sometimes it worked. 
Sometimes, if you showed enough 
confidence, Public Utility would 
fill you up without checking your 
account. True, it was embezzling, 
but this was no time for niceties. 

"I suppose your account is in or- 
der?" asked the woman. 

"Of course," Morrison said, feel- 
ing his smile grow stiff. "The name's 
Tom Morrison. You can just 

"Oh, I don't do that personally," 
the woman said. "Hold that can- 
teen steady. Here we go." 

i^ 1 RIPPING the canteen in both 

^^ hands, Morrison watched as 
the water, 'ported four thousand 
miles from Venusborg, appeared as 
a slender crystal stream above the 
mouth of his canteen. The stream 

entered the canteen, making a 
wonderful gurgling sound. Watch- 
ing it, Morrison found his dry 
mouth actually was beginning to 

Then the water stopped. 

"What's the matter?" Morrison 

His video screen went blank. 
Then it cleared, and Morrison 
found himself staring into a man's 
narrow face. The man was seated 
in front of a large desk. The sign in 
front of him read Milton P. Reade, 

don't pass the word around yet. I'm Vice President, Accounts. 





?f|VJR. Morrison," Reade said, 

your account is overdrawn. 
You have been obtaining water 
under false pretenses. That is a 
criminal offense." 

"I'm going to pay for the water," 
Morrison said. 


"As soon as I get back to Venus- 

"With what," asked Mr. Reade, 
"do you propose to pay?" 

"With goldenstone," Morrison 
said. "Look around here, Mr. 
Reade. The traces are rich! Richer 
than they were for the Kirk claim! 
I'll be hitting the outcroppings in 
another day—" 

"That's what every prospector 
thinks," Mr. Reade said. "Every 
prospector on Venus is only a day 
from goldenstone. And they all ex- 
pect credit from Public Utility." 

"But in this case-" 

"Public Utility," Mr. Reade con- 
tinued inexorably, "is not a philan- 
thropic organization. Its charter 
specifically forbids the extension of 
credit. Venus is a frontier, Mr. Mor- 
rison, a farflung frontier. Every 
manufactured article on Venus 
must be imported from Earth at 
outrageous cost. We do have our 
own water, but locating it, purify- 
ing it, then 'porting it is an expen- 
sive process. This company, like 
every other company on Venus, 
necessarily operates on a very nar- 
row margin of profit, which is in- 
variably plowed back into further 

expansion. That is why there can 
be no credit on Venus." 

"I know all that," Morrison said. 
"But I'm telling you, I only need a 
day or two more—" 

"Absolutely impossible. By the 
rules, we shouldn't even help you 
out now. The time to report bank- 
ruptcy was a week ago, when your 
sandcar broke down. Your garage 
man reported, as required by law. 
But you didn't. We would be 
within our rights to leave you 
stranded. Do you understand 

"Yes, of course," Morrison said 

"However, the company has de- 
cided to stretch a point in your 
favor. If you turn back immediate- 
ly, we will keep you supplied with 
water for the return trip." 

I'm not turning back yet. I'm 
almost on the real stuff." 

"You must turn back! Be reas- 
onable, Morrison! Where would we 
be if we let every prospector wan- 
der over the desert while we sup- 
plied his water? There'd be ten 
thousand men out there, and we'd 
be out of business inside of a year. 
I'm stretching the rules now. Turn 

"No," said Morrison. 

"You'd better think about it. If 
you don't turn back now, Public 
Utility takes no further responsi- 
bility for your water supply." 

Morrison nodded. If he went on, 
he would stand a good chance of 




dying in the desert But if he Morrison sat down and shook his 

turned back, what then? He would 
be in Venusborg, penniless and in 
debt, looking for work in an over- 
crowded city. He'd sleep in a com- 
munity shed and eat at a soup 
kitchen with the other prospectors 
who had turned back. And how 
would he be able to raise the fare 
back to Earth? When would he 
ever see Janie again? 

"I guess I'll keep on going," Mor- 
rison said. 

"Then Public Utility takes no 
further responsibility for you," 
Reade repeated, and hung up. 

Morrison packed up his tele- 
phone, took a sip from his meager 
water supply, and went on. 

r JT HE sandwolves loped along at 
-*■ each side, moving in closer. 
Overhead, a delta-winged kite 
found him. It balanced on the up- 
drafts for a day and a night, wait- 
ing for the wolves to finish him. 
Then a flock of small flying scor- 
pions sighted the waiting kite. 
They drove the big creature up- 
stairs into the cloud bank. For a 
day the flying reptiles waited. Then 
they in turn were driven off by a 
squadron of black kites. 

The traces were very rich now, 
on the fifteenth day since he had 
left the sandcar. By rights, he 
should be walking over golden- 
stone. He should be surrounded by 
goldenstone. But still he hadn't 
found any. 

last canteen. It gave off no wet 
sound. He uncapped it and turned 
it up over his mouth. Two drops 
trickled down his parched throat. 

It was about four days since he 
had talked to Public Utility. He 
must have used up the last of his 
water yesterday. Or had it been the 
day before? 

He recapped the empty canteen 
and looked around at the heat- 
blasted landscape. Abruptly he 
pulled the telephone out of his 
pack and dialed Max Krandall in 

Krandall's round, worried face 
swam into focus on the screen. 
"Tommy," he said, "you look like 

"I'm all right," Morrison said. "A 
little dried out, that's all. Max, I'm 
near goldenstone." 

"Are you sure?" Krandall asked. 

for yourself," Morrison 
said, swinging the telephone 
around. "Look at the stone forma- 
tions! Do you see the red and pur- 
ple markings over there?" 

"Traces, all right," Krandall ad- 
mitted dubiously. 

"There's rich stuff just beyond 
it," Morrison said. "There has to 
be! Look, Max, I know you're short 
on money, but I'm going to ask you 
a favor. Send me a pint of water. 
Just a pint, so I can go on for 
another day or two. We can both 
get rich for the price of a pint of 




"I can't do it," Krandall said 

"You can't?" 

"That's right. Tommy, I'd send 
you water even if there wasn't any- 
thing around you but sandstone and 
granite. Do you think I'd let you 
die of thirst if I could help it? But 
I can't do a thing. Take a look." 


RANDALL rotated his tele- 
phone. Morrison saw that the 
chairs, table, desk, filing cabinet 
and safe were gone from the office. 
All that was left in the room was 
the telephone. 

"I don't know why they haven't 
taken out the phone," Krandall 
said. "I owe two months on my 

"I do too," said Morrison. 

"I'm stripped," Krandall said. "I 
haven't got a dime. Don't get 
me wrong, I'm not worried about 
myself. I can always eat at a soup 
kitchen. But I can't 'port you any 
water. Not you or Remstaater." 

"Jim Remstaater?" 

"Yeah. He was following a trace 
up north past Forgotten River. His 
sandcar broke an axle last week 
and he wouldn't turn back. His 
water ran out yesterday." 

I'd bail him out if I could," said 

"And he'd bail you out if he 
could," Krandall said. "But he can't 
and you can't and I can't. Tommy, 
you have only one hope." 

"What's that?" 


"Find goldenstone. Not just 
traces, find the real thing worth 
real money. Then phone me. If you 
really have goldenstone, I'll bring 
in Wilkes from Tri-Planet Mining 
and get him to advance us some 
money. He'll probably want fifty 
per cent of the claim." 

"That's plain robbery!" 

"No, it's just the high cost of 
credit on Venus," Krandall an- 
swered. "Don't worry, there'll still 
be plenty left over. But you have 
to find goldenstone first" 

"OK," Morrison said. "It should 
be around here somewhere. Max, 
what's today's date?" 

"July thirty-first. Why?" 

"Just wondering. I'll call you 
when I've found something." 

After hanging up, Morrison sat 
on a little boulder and stared dully 
at the sand. July thirty-first. To- 
morrow was his birthday. His fam- 
ily would be thinking about him. 
Aunt Bess in Pasadena, the twins 
in Laos, Uncle Ted in Durango. 
And Janie, of course, waiting for 
him in Tampa. 

Morrison realized that tomorrow 
might be his last birthday unless 
he found goldenstone. 

He got to his feet, strapped the 
telephone back in his pack beside 
the empty canteens, and set a 

course to the south. 


E wasn't alone. The birds and 
beasts of the desert marched 
with him. Overhead, the silent 



black kites circled endlessly. The 
sandwolves crept closer on Jiis 
flanks, their red tongues lolling out, 
waiting for the carcass to fall . . . 

"I'm not dead yet!" Morrison 
shouted at them. 

He drew his revolver and fired 
at the nearest wolf. At twenty feet, 
he missed. He went down on one 
knee, held the revolver tightly in 
both hands and fired again. The 
wolf yelped in pain. The pack im- 
mediately went for the wounded 
animal, and the kites swooped 
down for their share. 

Morrison put the revolver back 
in its holster and went on. He could 
tell he was in a badly dehydrated 
state. The landscape jumped and 
danced in front of him, and his foot- 
ing was unsure. He discarded the 
empty canteens, threw away every- 
thing but the testing kit, telephone 
and revolver. Either he was com- 
ing out of the desert in style or he 
wasn't coming out at all. 

The traces continued to run rich. 
But still he came upon no sign of 

tangible wealth. 

That evening he found a shallow 
cave set into the base of a cliff. He 
crawled inside and built a barri- 
cade of rocks across the entrance. 
Then he drew his revolver and 
leaned back against the far wall. 

The sandwolves were outside, 
sniffing and snapping their jaws. 
Morrison propped himself up and 
got ready for an all-night vigil. 

He didn't sleep, but he couldn't 

stay awake, either. Dreams and 
visions tormented him. He was 
back on Earth and Janie was say- 
ing to him, "It's the tuna. Some- 
thing must be wrong with their 
diet. Every last one of them is 

"It's the darnedest thing," Mor- 
rison told her. "Just as soon as you 
domesticate a fish, it turns into a 
prima donna." 

"Are you going to stand there 
philosophizing," Janie asked, "while 
your fish are sick?" 

"Call the vet." 

"I did. He's off at the Blake's 
place, taking care of their dairy 

"All right, I'll go out and take a 
look." He slipped on his face mask. 
Grinning, he said, "I don't even 
have time to dry off before I have 
to go out again." 

His face and chest were wet. 


ORRISON opened his eyes. 
His face and chest were wet 
— from perspiration. Staring at the 
partially blocked mouth of the 
cave, he could see green eyes, two, 
four, six, eight 

He fired at them, but they didn't 
retreat. He fired again, and his bul- 
let richocheted off the cave wall, 
stinging him with stone splinters. 

With his next shots, he succeeded 
in winging one of the wolves. The 
pack withdrew. 

That emptied the revolver. Mor- 
rison searched through his pockets 



and found five more cartridges. He 
carefully loaded the gun. Dawn 
couldn't be far away now. 

And then he was dreaming again, 
this time of the Prospector's Spe- 
cial. He had heard about it in every 
little saloon that bordered the 
Scorpion. Bristly-bearded old pros- 
pectors told a hundred different 
stories about it, and the cynical 
bartenders chimed in with their 
versions. Kirk had it in '89, ordered 
up big and special just for him. Ed- 
monson and Arsler received it in 
'93. That was certain. And other 
men had had it too, as they sat on 
their precious goldenstone claims. 
Or so people said. 

But was it real? Was there such 
a thing as the Prospector's Special? 
Would he live to see that rainbow- 
hued wonder, tall as a church 
steeple, wide as a house, more pre- 
cious than goldenstone itself? 

Sure he would! Why, he could 
almost see it now . . . 

Morrison shook himself awake. 
It was morning. Painfully, he 
crawled out of the cave to face the 

' He stumbled and crawled to the 
south, escorted closely by wolves, 
shaded by predatory flying things. 
His fingers scrabbled along rock 
and sand. The traces were rich, 

But where in all this desolation 
was the goldenstone? 

Where? He was almost past car- 
ing. He drove his sunburned, dried- 

out body, stopping only to fire a 
single shot when the wolves came 
too close. 

Four bullets left. 

He had to fire again when the 
kites, growing impatient, started 
diving at his head. A lucky shot 
tore into the flock, downing two. 
It gave the wolves something to 
fight over. Morrison crawled on 

And fell over the edge of a little 

It wasn't a serious fall, but the 
revolver was knocked from his 
hand. Before he could find it, the 
wolves were on him. Only their 
greed saved Morrison. While they 
fought over him, he rolled away 
and retrieved his revolver. Two 
shots scattered the pack. That left 
one bullet. 

He'd have to save fhat one for 
himself, because he was too tired 
to go on. He sank to his knees. The 
traces were rich here. Fantastically 
rich. Somewhere nearby . . . 

"Well, I'll be damned," Morrison 

The little ravine into which he 
had fallen was solid goldenstone. 

TT E picked up a pebble. Even in 
-"-•■■ its rough state he could see 
the deep luminous golden glow, the 
fiery red and purple flecks deep in 
the shining stone. 

"Make sure," Morrison told him- 
self. "No false alarms, no visions, 
no wild hopes. Make sure." 



He broke off a chunk of rock 
with the butt of his revolver. It still 
looked like goldenstone. He took 
out his testing kit and spilled a few 
drops of white solution on the rock. 
The solution foamed green. 

"Goldenstone, sure as sure," 
Morrison said, looking around at 
the glowing cliff walls. "Hey, I'm 

He took out his telephone. With 
trembling fingers he dialed Kran- 
dall's number. 

"Max!" Morrison shouted. "I've 
hit it! I've hit the real stuff!* 

"My name is not Max," a voice 

over the telephone said. 


"]ty[y name is Boyard," the man 

The video screen cleared, and 
Morrison saw a thin, sallow-faced 
man with a hairline mustache. 

"I'm sorry, Mr. Boyard," Mor- 
rison said. "I must have gotten the 
wrong number. I was calling- 

"It doesn't matter who you were 
calling," Mr. Boyard said. "I am 
District Supervisor of the Venus 
Telephone Company. Your bill is 
two months overdue." 

"I can pay it now," Morrison 
said, grinning. 

"Excellent," said Mr. Boyard. 
"As soon as you do, your service 
will be resumed." 

The screen began to fade. 

"Wait!" Morrison cried. "I can 
pay as soon as I reach your office. 
But I must make one telephone 



call. Just one call, so that I- 

"Not a chance," Mr. Boyard said 
decisively. "After you have paid 
your bill, your service will be 
turned on immediately." 

"I've got the money right here!" 
Morrison said. "Right here in my 

i Mr. Boyard paused. "Well, it's 
unusual, but I suppose we could ar- 
range for a special robot messen- 
ger if you are veiling to pay the 

"I am!" 

"Hm. It's irregular, but I daresay 
we . . . Where is the money?" 

"Right here," Morrison said. 
"You recognize it, don't you? It's 

"I am sick and tired of the tricks 
you prospectors think you can put 
over on us. Holding up a handful 
of pebbles—" 

"But this is really goldenstone! 
Can't you see it?" 

"I am a businessman," Mr. Boy- 
ard said, "not a jeweler. I wouldn't 
know goldenstone from goldenrod." 

The video screen went blank. 

l^RANTICALLY, Morrison 
-*• tried to reach the operator. 
There was nothing* not even a dial 
tone. His telephone was discon- 

He put the instrument down and 
surveyed his situation. The narrow 
crevice into which he had fallen ran 
straight for about twenty yards, 
then curved to the left No cave 



was visible in the steep walls, no 
place where he could build a bar- 

He heard a movement behind 
him. Whirling around, he saw a 
huge old wolf in full charge. With- 
out a moment's hesitation, Mor- 
rison drew and fired, blasting off 
the top of the beast's head. 

"Damn it," Morrison said. "I was 
going to save that bullet for my- 

It gave him a moment's grace. 
He ran down the ravine, looking 
for an opening in its sides. Gold- 
enstone glowed at him and sparkled 

red and purple. And the sand- 
wolves loped along behind him. 

Then Morrison stopped. In front 
of him, the curving ravine ended 

in a sheer wall. 

He put his back against it, hold- 
ing the revolver by its butt. The 
wolves stopped five feet from him, 
gathering themselves for a rush. 
There were ten or twelve of them, 
and they were packed three deep 
in the narrow pass. Overhead, the 
kites circled, waiting for their turn. 

At that moment, Morrison heard 
the crackling sound of 'porting 
equipment. A whirlpool appeared 
above the wolves' heads and they 
backed hastily away. 

"Just in time!" Morrison said. 

"In time for what?" asked Wil- 
Hams 4, the postman. 

The robot climbed out of the 
vortex and looked around. 

said, "this is a fine fix you've gotten 
yourself into. Didn't I warn you? 
Didn't I advise you to turn back? 
And now look!" 

"You were perfectly right," Mor- 
rison said. "What did Max Kran- 
dall send me?" 

"Max Krandall did not, and 
could not, send a thing." 

"Then why are you here?" 

"Because it's your birthday," 
Williams 4 said. "We of the Postal 
Department always give special 
service for birthdays. Here you 



Williams 4 gave him a handful of 
mail, birthday greetings from 
Janie, and from his aunts, uncles 
and cousins on Earth. 

"Something else here," Williams 
4 said, rummaging in his bag. "I 
think there was something else 
here. Let me see . . . Yes, here it is." 

He handed Morrison a small 


ASTILY, Morrison tore off the 
wrappings. It was a birthday 
present from his Aunt Mina in New 
Jersey. He opened it. It was a large 
box of salt-water taffy, direct from 
Atlantic City. 

"Quite a delicacy, I'm told," said 
Williams 4, who had been peering 
over his shoulder. "But not very 
satisfactory under the circum- 
stances. Well, young man, I hate 
to see anyone die on his birthday. 
The best I can wish you is a speedy 

"Well, young man," Williams 4 and painless departure." 



The robot began walking toward 
the vortex. 

"Wait!" Morrison cried. "You 
can't just leave me like this! I 
haven't had any water in days! And 
those wolves— " 

"I know," Williams 4 said. "Do 
you think I feel happy about it? 
Even a robot has some feelings!" 

"Then help me.". 

"I can't. The rules of the Postal 
Department expressly and cate- 
gorically forbid it. I remember 
Abner Lathe making much the 
same request of me in '97. It took 
three years for a burial party to 
reach him." 

"You have an emergency tele- 
phone, haven't you?" Morrison 

"Yes. But I can use it only for 
personal emergencies." 

"Can you at least carry a letter 
for me? A special delivery letter?" 

"Of course I can," the robot post- 
man said. "That's what I'm here for. 
I can even lend you pencil and 

Morrison accepted the pencil 
and paper and tried to think. If he 
wrote to Max now, special delivery, 
Max would have the letter in a 
matter of hours. But how long 
would Max need to raise some 
money and send him water and 
ammunition? A day, two days? 
Morrison would have to figure out 
some way of holding out ... 

"I assume you have a stamp," the 
robot said. 

"I don't," Morrison replied. 
"But I'll buy one from you. Solido- 
port special." 

"Excellent," said the robot. "We 
have just put out a new series of 
Venusborg triangulars. I consider 
them quite an esthetic accomplish- 
ment. They cost three dollars 



"That's fine. Very reasonable. 
Let me have one." 

"There is the question of pay- 

"Here," Morrison said, handing 
the robot a piece of goldenstone 
worth about five thousand dollars 
in the rough. 

The postman examined the 
stone, then handed it back. "I'm 
sorry, I can accept only cash." 

"But this is worth more than a 
thousand postage stamps!" Mor- 
rison said. "This is goldenstone!" 

"It may well be," Williams 4 
said. "But I have never had any 
assaying knowledge taped into me. 
Nor is the Venus Postal Service 
run on a barter system. I'll have to 
ask for three dollars in bills or 

"I don't have it." 

"I am very sorry." Williams 
4 turned to go. 

"You can't just go and let me 

"I can and must," Williams 4 
said sadly. "I am only a robot, Mr. 
Morrison. I was made by men, and 
naturally I partake of some of their 
sensibilities. That's as it should be. 



But I also have my limits, which, 
in their nature, are similar to the 
limits most humans have on this 
harsh planet. And, unlike humans, 
I cannot transcend my limits." 

The robot started to climb into 
the whirlpool. Morrison stared at 


him blankly, and saw beyond him 
the waiting wolfpack. He saw the 
soft glow of several million dollars' 
worth of goldenstone shining from 
the ravine's walls. 

Something snapped inside him. 

"IW7ITH an inarticulate yell, Mor- 
* * rison dived, tackling the robot 
around the ankles. Williams 4, half 
in and half out of the 'porting vor- 
tex, struggled and kicked, and al- 
most succeeded in shaking Mor- 
rison loose. But with a maniac's 
strength Morrison held on. Inch 
by inch he dragged the robot out of 
the vortex, threw him on the 
ground and pinned him. 

"You are disrupting the mail 
service," said Williams 4. 

"That's not all I'm going to dis- 
rupt," Morrison growled. "I'm not 
afraid of dying. That was part of 
the gamble. But I'm damned if I'm 
going to die fifteen minutes after 
I've struck it rich!" 

"You have no choice." 

"I do. I'm going to use that emer- 
gency telephone of yours." 

"You can't," Williams 4 said. "I 
refuse to extrude it. And you could 
never reach it without the re- 
sources of a machine shop." 

. "Could be," said Morrison. "I 
plan to find out." He pulled out his 
empty revolver. 

"What are you going to do?" 
Williams 4 asked. 


I'm going to see if I can smash 
you into scrap metal without the 
resources of a machine shop. I 
think your eyecells would be a logi- 
cal place to begin." 

"They would indeed," said the 
robot. "I have no personal sense of 
survival, of course. But let me point 
out that you would be leaving all 
Venus without a postman. Many 
would suffer because of your anti- 
social action." 

"I hope so," Moirison said, rais- 
ing the revolver above his head. 

"Also," the robot said hastily, 
"you would be destroying govern- 
ment property. That is a serious 

Morrison laughed and swung the 
pistol. The robot moved its head 
quickly, dodging the blow. It tried 
to wriggle free, but Morrison's two 
hundred pounds was seated firmly 
on its thorax. 

"I won't miss this time," Mor- 
rison promised, hefting the re- 

"Stop!" Williams 4 said. "It is 
my duty to protect government 
property, even if that property hap- 
pens to be myself. You may use 
my telephone, Mr. Morrison. Bear 
in mind that this offense is pun- 
ishable by a sentence of not more 
than ten and not less than five years 



in the Solar Swamp Penitentiary." 
"Let's have that telephone," 
Morrison said. 

r |^HE robot's chest opened and a 
-■■ small telephone extruded. Mor- 
rison dialed Max Krandall and ex- 
plained the situation. 

"I see, I see," Krandall said. "All 
right, 111 try to find Wilkes. But, 
Tom, I don't know how much I can 
do. It's after business hours. Most 
places are closed—" 

"Get them open again," said 
Morrison. "I can pay for it And 
get Jim Remstaater out of trouble, 


"It can't be done just like that. 
You haven't established any rights 
to your claim. You haven't even 
proved that your claim is valuable." 

"Look at it." Morrison turned 
the telephone so that Krandall 
could see the glowing walls of the 

"Looks real," Krandall said. "But 
unfortunately, all that glitters is not 

"What can we do?" Morrison 

"We'll have to take it step by 
step. I'll 'port you the Public Sur- 
veyor. He'll check your claim, es- 
tablish its limits, and make sure no 
one else has filed on it. You give 
him a chunk of goldenstone to take 
back. A big chunk." 

"How can I cut goldenstone? I 
don't have any tools." 

"You'll have to figure out a way. 

He'll take the chunk back for as- 
saying. If it's rich enough, you're 
all set." 

"And if it isn't?" 

"Perhaps we better not talk 
about that," Krandall said. "I'll get 
right to Work on this, Tommy. 
Good luck!" 

Morrison signed off. He stood up 
and helped the robot to its feet 

"In twenty-three years of serv- 
ice," Williams 4 said, "this is the 
first time anybody has threatened 
the life of a government postal em- 
ployee. I must report this to the 
police authorities at Venusborg, 
Mr. Morrison. I have no choice." 

"I know," Morrison said. "But 
I guess five or ten years in the 
penitentiary is better than dying." 

"I doubt it. I carry mail there, 
you know. You will have the op- 
portunity of seeing for yourself in 
about six months." 

"What?" said Morrison, stunned. 

"In about six months, after I 
have completed my mail calls 
around the planet and returned to 
Venusborg. A matter like this must 
be reported in person. But first and 
foremost, the mails must go 

"Thanks, Williams. I don't know 

"I am simply performing my 
duty," the robot said as it climbed 
into the vortex. "If you are still on 
Venus in six months, I will be de- 
livering your mail to the peniten- 



"I won't be here," Morrison said. 
"So long, Williams!" 

The robot disappeared into the 
'porting vortex. Then the vortex 
disappeared. Morrison was alone in 
the Venusian twilight. 

TTE found an outcropping of gol- 
-*--*- denstone larger than a man's 
head. He chipped at it with his 
pistol butt, and tiny particles 
danced and shimmered in the air. 
After an hour, he had put four dents 
in his revolver, but he had barely 
scratched the highly refractory sur- 
face of the goldenstone. 

The sandwolves began to edge 
forward. Morrison threw stones at 
them and shouted in his dry, 
cracked voice. The wolves re- 

He examined the outcropping 
again and found a hairline fault 
running along one edge. He con- 
centrated his blows along the fault. 

The goldenstone refused to 

Morrison wiped sweat from his 
eyes and tried to think. A chisel, 
he needed a chisel . . . 

He pulled off his belt. Putting 
the edge of the steel buckle against 
the crack, he managed to hammer 
it in a fraction of an inch. Three 
more blows drove the buckle firm- 
ly into the fault. With another 
blow, the outcropping sheared off 
cleanly. He had separated a twen- 
ty-pound piece from the cliff. At 
fifty dollars a troy ounce, this lump 





r ■* 





should be worth about twelve thou- 
sand dollars — if it assayed out as 
pure as it looked. 

The twilight had turned a deep 
gray when the Public Surveyor 
'ported in. It was a short, squat 
robot with a conservative crackle- 
black finish. 

"Good day, sir," the surveyor 
said. "You wish to file a claim? 
A standard unrestricted mining 

"That's right," Morrison said. 

"And where is the center of the 
aforesaid claim?" 

"Huh? The center? I guess I'm 
standing on it." 

"Very well," the robot said. 

Extruding a steel tape, it walked 
rapidly away from Morrison. At a 
distance of two hundred yards, it 
stopped. More steel tape fluttered 
as it walked, flew and climbed a 
square with Morrison at the cen- 
ter. When it had finished, the sur- 
veyor stood for a long time with- 
out moving. 

"What are you doing?" Morrison 

"I'm making depth-photographs 
of the terrain," the robot said. "It's 
rather difficult in this light. 
Couldn't you wait till morning?" 


"Well, I'll just have to cope," 
the robot said. 

It moved and stood, moved and 
stood, each subterranean exposure 
taking longer than the last as the 
twilight deepened. If it had had 


pores, it would have sweated. 

"There," said the robot at last, 
"that takes care of it. Do you have 
a sample for me to take back?" 

"Here it is," Morrison said, heft- 
ing the slab of goldenstone and 
handing it to the surveyor. "Is that 

"Absolutely all," the robot said. 
"Except, of course, that you haven't 
given me the Deed of Search." 


ORRISON blinked. "I haven't 
given you the what?" 

"The Deed of Search. That is 
a government document showing 
that the claim you are filing on is 
free, as per government order, of 
fissionable material in excess of fif- 
ty per cent of the total mass to a 
depth of sixty feet It's a mere for- 
mality, but a necessary one." 

"I never heard of it," Morrison 

"It became a requirement last 
week," explained the surveyor. 
"You don't have the Deed? Then 
I'm afraid your standard unre- 
stricted claim is invalid." 

"Isn't there anything I can do?" 

"Well," the robot said, "you 
could change your standard unre- 
stricted claim to a special restricted 
claim. That requires no Deed of 

"What does the special restricted 
part mean?" 

"It means that in five hundred 
years all rights revert to the Gov- 
ernment of Venus." 


"All right! " Morrison shouted. 
"Fine! Good! Is that all?" 

"Absolutely all," the surveyor 
said. "I shall bring this sample back 
and have it assayed and evaluated 
immediately. From it and the 
depth-photographs we can extra- 
polate the value and extent of your 

"Send me back something to 
take care of the wolves," Morrison 
said. "And food. And listen— I want 
a Prospector's Special." 

"Yes, sir. It will all be 'ported to 
you — if your claim is of sufficient 
value to warrant the outlay." 

The robot climbed into the vor- 
tex and vanished. 

Time passed, and the wolves 
edged forward again. They snarled 
at the rocks Morrison threw, but 
they didn't retreat Jaws open and 
tongues lolling, they crept up the 
remaining yards between them and 

the prospector. 

Then the leading wolf leaped 
back and howled. A gleaming vor- 
tex had appeared over his head and 
a rifle had fallen from the vortex, 
striking him on a forepaw. 

The wolves scrambled away. An- 
other rifle fell from the vortex. 
Then a large box marked Grenades, 
Handle With Care. Then another 
box marked Desert Ration K. 

Morrison waited, staring at the 
gleaming mouth of the vortex. It 
crossed the sky to a spot a quar- 
ter of a mile away and paused 

there, and then a great round brass 
base emerged from the vortex, and 
the mouth widened to allow an 
even greater bulge of brass to 
which the base was attached. The 
bulge grew higher as the base was 
lowered to the sand. When the last 
of it appeared, it stood alone in 
the horizon-to-horizon expanse, a 
gigantic ornate brass punchbowl in 
the desert. The vortex rose and 
paused again over the bowl. 

Morrison waited, his throat raw 
and aching. Now a small trickle 
came out of the vortex and 
splashed down into the bowl. Still 
Morrison didn't move. 

ND then it came. The trickle 
became a roar that sent the 
wolves and kites fleeing in terror, 
and a cataract poured from the vor- 
tex to the huge punchbowl. 

Morrison 'began staggering to- 
ward it. He should have ordered a 
canteen, he told himself thirstily, 
stumbling across the quarter of a 
mile of sand. But at last he stood 
beneath the Prospector's Special, 
higher than a church steeple, wider 
than a house, filled with water more 
precious than goldenstone itself. 
He turned the spigot at the bottom. 
Water soaked the yellow sands and 
ran in rivulets down the dune. 

He should have ordered a cup or 
glass, Morrison thought, lying on 
his back with open mouth. 







If I was willing to get to the 
root of this problem, why were 
they so up in the air over it? 

Illustrated by DILLON 

LATER on, I couldn't re- 
member quite why I did it. 
I was sitting there in my 
usual condition of vague awareness, 
wishing Barbara's voice would 


stop grating away because there 
was a man who was going to talk to 
us about St. Augustine grass, and 
I was hoping he'd say what to do 
for the brown spots in my lawn. 


"Oh, come on, girls," Barbara 
was saying. "We ought to enter the 
Federated Gardens show. Last 
year we won third prize." 

What Barbara wanted, of course, 
was for us to urge her to do the Ar- 
rangement. She was the only one of 
us with any talent, and to be fair, 
Barbara is a real maestro. 

Every year we each make a 
Dried Arrangement and Barbara 
comes along and ^ays, "Um!" and 
presses her lips together and waves 
her hand over your weedy-looking 

mess and pokes sticks in and out of 
the starfoam and, presto, you have 
a beautiful Arrangement to keep in 
your living room until the next 
Dried Arrangements meeting. 
Every year I take it home and 

everyone says, "Oh, isn't that beau- 
tiful! Did you make it?" And of 
course I had been rather pretend- 
ing I had made it, only if somebody 
asked me about it directly, I had 
to say, "No, Barbara James made 
it." I frequently wished I had the 
courage to rush out of the Dried 
Arrangements meeting before she 
got to me and set my weedy, 
whispy Arrangement on the buffet 
and leave it there. 

Needless to say, I do not have 
this kind of courage. 

Only as Barbara got to the part 
where she says, "O.K. Any volun- 
teers?" something popped inside 
of me and I shot my hand up and 
said, "I'd be glad to have a try at 

Barbara's mouth quirked a little, 
because she knew perfectly well 
what kind of Arrangements I make, 
"and because she had probably al- 
ready decided exactly what sort of 
Arrangement the Eastbank Garden 
Group was going to enter in the 
Federated Gardens show. 

But she said, "That's fine, Sally 
Jo. You're to use camellias in it 
somewhere. I think you'd do best 
with a simple fan Arrangement. 
I'll mail you their rules book, and 
if you'd like any — er — advice, 
why, I'd be glad to help." • 

That was it, of course. She wasn't 
going to let it be my Arrangement 

at all. 

I didn't even hear what the man 
said about St. Augustine grass. All 
the time I was thinking, thinking, 
thinking. Was there any kind of 
Arrangement I could make that 
Barbara couldn't do better? Some- 
thing really different, so that when 
I looked at it, I wouldn't have to 
picture Barbara pressing her lips 


T was about eleven o'clock at 

night' when I got home, and of 

course Ronald was asleep, but I 

just couldn't bear this by myself. 

"Ronald!" I cried in a loud whis- 
per so as not to wake Tommy. "Do 
you know what I've done!" 

Ronald snuffled irritably, then 
sat up with a jerk and grabbed me 
by the shoulders. 

"You ran over somebody!" 



"No. I volunteered to make the 
flower Arrangement for the Fed- 
erated Gardens show!" 

Ronald mumbled blasphemies 
and sank back into his pillow. 

"Darling, please stay awake. 
You see, the thing is, I'm actually 
going to do this. Only there's the 
matter of Barbara. Now, if I can 
only find something— come to think 
of it, there's the Hogarth Curve. 
Barbara can do fans or Japanese 
things or crescents, but the one 
thing Barbara has never won a 
prize on is the Hogarth Curve. It 
tends to droop, you see. Darling . . ." 

But he was asleep. 

For a wild moment I even con- 
sidered waking up Tommy, just to 
have someone to talk to. 

The wild moment passed and I 
eyed the telephone. But there isn't 
anyone you can call up at eleven 
o'clock at night and say, "About 
the Hogarth Curve- 

I crossed my arms over my chest 
and slipped my feet out of my 
shoes so I could stride up and down 
the house quietly. Naturally I 
couldn't think of anything. I never 
can when I try. 

But it hit me the next day. I 
was putting some applique on a 
pot holder for the bazaar in Janu- 
ary — I loathe applique — and there 
it was! 

The Hogarth Curve wouldn't do, 
because while Barbara wasn't real- 
ly successful with that kind of Ar- 
rangement, she could look at it and 


immediately see what was wrong. 
But the Hogarth Curve isn't the 
only line in the world. Lines re- 
minded me of math, and math re- 
minded me of that Mathematics 
for Morons book Ronald brought 
home in one of his numerous un- 
successful attempts to improve my 
thinking ability. 

I stuck my finger with a needle, 
hissed at the stab, held the pot 
holder carefully away so as not to 
get blood on it. Applique, ha! 

There was something in that 
book I wanted to remember. Some 
really interesting line. I grabbed 
the book and started down the in- 
dex. B. I was sure it began with a B. 
No. Moebius Strip. That was it. 

Feverishly, I flipped the pages 
back to find out what it was that 
. was so interesting about the Moe- 
bius Strip, and whether it could 
be done with an aspidistra leaf 
soaked in glycerin. 

"Brring!" went the alarm clock, 
which I always reset in the morn- 
ing to tell me to go get Tommy. 

"Damn, damn, damn," I said, 
glancing hastily around at the part 
on Moebius Strips. There were 
other interesting-looking lines, but 
I just had a feeling the Moebius 
one was right. 


ALKING into the kindergar- 
ten, I peered around for Tom- 

"Everything all right?" Miss 
Potter asked. 



"Urn? Oh." I guess I had a glazed 
look in my eyes. "Come to think of 
it, I've been pondering it all morn- 
ing and I haven't told anybody yet. 
I'm going to make the Arrange- 
ment for the Federated Gardens 

"How nice! You could make a 
real family project out of it!" Miss 
Potter said with her usual mis- 
placed enthusiasm. "Tommy loves 
to make things!" 

"I know." 

Tommy talked all the way home, 
but I didn't hear a word he said. 

"Make yourself a peanut butter 
sandwich," I said when I pushed 
open % the back door. 

"Boys my age need a good hot 

"My mother used to have to 


force me to eat a good hot lunch. 

I'd have liked nothing better than 

to come home and make myself a 

peanut butter sandwich." 

Tommy gave me his accusatory 

"Oh, all right," I said. 

A FTER lunch, we went out in 
-^*- the garage where I have my 
lab— ferns being pressed between 
newspapers, cattails hanging up to 
dry, my bucket of things in glyc- 

"What I need," I mused, "is the 
biggest aspidistra in the world." 

I found a really nice one. Brown- 
ish, of course, but with a reddish 
streak and hints of deep green in 



it. And best of all, a light stripe 
right down the middle. 

"This," I said, "is going to be the 
very soul of our flower arrange- 

"What's a soul?" 

"A soul . . ." The telephone rang. 
I am not always this fortunate. 

"I wanted to let you know," Bar- 
bara said, "that I've got the perfect 
container for your Arrangement. A 
pale blue cloisonne bowl. Oval. Just 
the thing for a fan Arrangement." 

I'm not making a fan Arrange- 

"No? Well, I think it would do 
very nicely for one of the Japanese 

I'm not using Japanese lines," 
I said. 

There was a silence. Then, 
"You're not going to try a Hogarth 

"No. It's not the sort of thing you 
can describe, Barbara. You'll just 
have to see it. When I'm ready." 

"I can come by any evening." 


Fortunately, Barbara works. "Sup- 
pose I come by this evening and 
bring you the bowl?" 

"I already have a base," I lied. 
"I'll call you when I have the Ar- 
rangement in shape." 

"I didn't mean to interfere." 

"It isn't that. It's that the thing is 
— gestating. I need to feel it for a 

"Of course," Barbara said, as 
though I had just told her I was 
calling in a medium. 



ABASE. Really, I didn't want 
any base at all. I needed some- 

thing that was nothing. 

The pastry board was too big. 

But I have a lovely chopping 
board, oblong, just the right size. I 
scrubbed the onion and garlic smell 
out of it as best I could and stuck 
on a piece of starfoam with floral 

Now the Moebius Strip. 


His eyes were wide and puzzled. 
He didn't know what he'd done. 

"Why did you tear Mama's aspi- 
distra leaf into strips?" A whole 
bunch of them, meeting at the stem. 

"It's prettier that way." 

I could see what he meant. 
There was something festive-look- 
ing about it. Like streamers tied to 
a stick. 

"Let's try it like it is," Tommy 

He picks up these insidious co- 
operative suggestions from Miss 
Potter, and he has me in the midst 
of family projects before I'm aware 

of what's going on. 

"Well, I guess it wouldn't hurt to 
try. Hand me a piece of that green 



I gathered the ends of the 
streamers together, carefully half- 
looped them and wired them to the 
bottom of the stem, so that the stem 
was part of the curve, too. They 
were pliable, but not limp or crack- 
ly, from the glycerin. My idea was 
to make a Dried Arrangement and 

then wire in some camellias at the 
last minute. 

If I had been a purist, I would 
have left the Arrangement the way 
it was, with just the one leaf. Tom- 
my and I, however, are not purists. 

"Go out into the garage and get 
me six dried okra pods off the 
shelf," I said. "I am a fairy god- 

"Which ones is the okra?" Tom- 


my asked. 

"The stripy ones." 

Tommy was back in a flash. 
"What are you going to turn them 

"A handsome young Dried Ar- 

"Can I stick some in?" 


I wired them all and put in five, 
their slight crescents all curving in 
the same direction. Tommy put the 
sixth one in, curving, of course, in 
the wrong direction. 

Still, you know, it didn't look 

"Now," I said, "we need some- 
thing behind it. For a background. 
Something pale. Go into the 
garage," I commanded, waving my 
magic floral wire, "and get me four 
ferns. They're between the sheets 
of newspaper." 

It's obvious what's wrong with 
all this. You should never use an 
even number of things in a flower 
arrangement. It's gauche and bour- 
geois and almost as bad as serving 
iced sherry. 



JUST as I was really getting 
started, Ronald came in de- 
manding dinner. 

"How am I ever going to get 
my Arrangement made if people 
keep interrupting?" I said, because 
I was knee-deep in weeds and it 
was infuriating to have to stop. 
"Don't you and Tommy ever think 
of anything but food?" 

"Sally Jo!" 

I opened cans of this and that, 
like the ladies on television. Ronald 
and Tommy ate morosely and of 
course the Tylers dropped by after 
dinner and Marcelle said, "What 
is that?" And I said, "Oh, it isn't 
finished yet," and Tommy said, "/ 
helped," and Marcelle said, "That's 
awfully clever of Tommy to help 

make something. But tell me, dear, 
have you ever wondered about his 

No, I hadn't, but it was my sub- 
conscious, and after that I kept 
wondering, Why is my subcon- 
scious like a Moebius Strip? The 
best answer I could come up with 
was that it's because it has a half- 
twist in it 

But the next morning I got the 
fern in exactly right, balancing the 
five okra pods with three large 
ferns and the wrong-way one with 
a small fern. The aspidistra showed 
up beautifully against the fragile 
dried road fern. 

Then, of course, Tommy and 
Ronald revolted against my Crea- 
tive Period, each in his own way. 

Tommy fell down and split his lip 
wide open, requiring stitches, and 
Ronald came down with the flu, 
requiring continuous bed care. 

I'd rather be locked up with two 
live octopi. 

And then Marcelle called and 
said the pot holders had to be done 
by the next week, so every time I 
had an odd moment I had to sit 
down and work on that wretched 

"I'll resign!" I screamed one day, 
hurling a half-appliqued pot holder 
across the room. "Do you know that 
I still have the bias binding to sew 
on? And, Ronald, they're round" 

"For God's sake, resign! I've 
never heard of making pot holders 
foi a garden club, anyway." 

"It's for our bazaar. And I can't 
resign before the show. I wouldn't 
be able to make the Arrangement." 

"Which would suit me just fine," 
Ronald said. "Where's my pipe?" 

"Did you look on your pipe 
rack?" * 

"There's a tube of toothpaste on 
my pipe rack." 

"Then your pipe's in the medi- 
cine cabinet." 

By the time Tommy was back 
in school and Ronald was back at 
work, I had one day to finish my 
Arrangement in. 

T> ARBARA, of course, had been 
-*-* calling every night "to find 
out how everybody is," and hint- 
ing for me to let her take over. 






Somewhere, probably out of sheer 
irritation, I found the strength of 
mind to refuse her. 

"But you'll need my Pink Per- 
fections," Barbara said. "After all, 
it's a camellia show." 

''Couldn't you meet me before 
the show? I'm going over at eight 
o'clock and Ronald's going to drop 
Tommy off at school for me. The 
show doesn't start until nine. You 
could stop by on the way to work." 
I'll be there at eight o'clock," 
Barbara said. "How many Pink 
Perfections do you want me to 
bring? Three? Five?" 

"Four," I said, and hung up be- 
fore she could even gasp. 

I worked most of the night. I 
filled in the curve of the Moebius 
Strip with some soft, sort of thistle 
down things. I covered the star- 
foam with curly moss and left the 
rest of the chopping board bare. I 
worked in the mindless way that 
produces the best effect. 

The alarm went ^off at six. I 
hopped out of bed and darted 
about the chilly house to get my 
family clothed and fed and out. I 
was more excited than I ought to 
have been over a flower show. Fd 
stuck my neck out too far, refusing 
to let Barbara help. And using a 
totally unorthodox Arrangement. 
And furthermore — you don't ordi- 
narily think of Flower Arranging 
as a vice, but it was something 
nasty in me that made me volun- 
teer to do it, and to exclude Bar- 

bara, who after all needs to make 
Flower Arrangements because she 
doesn't have any children. And if 
one is going to have a vice at all, 
and neglect home and family and 
friends, one ought to be able to 
say, "There, at least I got a prize." 
I broke the eggs into a bowl and 
got the bacon started. Then I 
popped into the living room and 
turned the light on for a quick look 
at my Moebius Strip. There was 
something not quite right about it. 
For one thing, it no longer looked 
like a Moebius Strip. On the other 
hand, it didn't look nor like a Moe- 
bius Strip. 

The bacon started complaining 
and I went to separate the pieces 
and at this point Tommy woke up 

and informed me that he was wet, 
as is his tendency on cold mornings. 


Then Ron said he couldn't find his 
cuff links and the cat started yowl- 
ing to come in and I didn't have 
time to think about anything at all. 
Until I started in to get my 
flower Arrangement to bring to 
the John £). Ransom auditorium, 


where the show was going to be. 
Then Tommy said, "I fixed it for 
you." And so he had. It looked 
Moebius, only more so. 

Barbara was waiting for me just 
inside the door, her arms wrapped 
around herself, doing a little two- 
step to warm up. The auditorium 
was like a vault and the heating 
system was just getting started, 
with random, thunderous shrieks. 



"Why, Sally JoF Barbara cried, 
stopping in mid-two-step. "It's in- 

CARRIED the Arrangement 
over to the niche marked east- 

it down carefully, though Barbara 
says an Arrangement should al- 
ways be so tight you can turn it up- 
side down and shake it. 

Interesting! I had a moment of 
wild triumph and then I was a little 
ashamed of myself. Barbara was 
generous enough to like it. 

"However," Barbara said, press- 
ing her lips together and making 
me feel normal again, "where are 
we going to put the Pink Perfec- 

Barbara opened the shallow box 
with four camellias in it. They 
were, of course, perfect and spot- 
less and exactly alike. I can under- 
stand how Barbara manages to dis- 
cipline her house and her dog and 
her husband, but I have never fig- 
ured out how anyone can discipline 

"The camellias? Oh, yes, the 
camellias . . ." 

There was a baffled bellow from 
Ronald. He was trying to get Tom- 
my's snowsuit off. I ran over before 
the zipper or Tommy could get 
jammed. The instant I had the 
snowsuit off, there was a wail from 
Tommy. "She ruined my Flower 

My heart sank. "No, no, dear," 
I said, hurrying after him to where 
Barbara was, but he was right. 
There were bits of weed and fluff 
piled up on the floor and a gleam 
of joy in Barbara's eyes, and there 
was nothing left of the fascinating 
shape Tommy and I had made. 
"See?" I went on. "It's beautiful. 
Ifs a perfect Hogarth Curve." It 
was. It didn't droop at all. And Bar- 
bara had made the Arrangement. 

"There was something funny in / 
there," Barbara said. "I thought it 
must be Tommy's, so I saved it." 

"It's my inside-out balloon," 
Tommy said, his chin quivering, 

"and she turned it back right-side 
in!" ' 

It was Tommy's multi-colored 
balloon, and it really didn't look 
much like a balloon any more, 
though it was still blown up. "How 
did your balloon get in there?" 

"I put it in," Tommy said, "to 
make the Arrangement more 
rounder. It's the roundest thing I 
ever made." Tears were gathering 
in his eyes. 

"Now, dear, I don't know why I 
didn't see it." 

"I put it in after you made it. 
Then I blew it up and tied it and 
poked in the end. It was the round- 
est thing in the whole world!" 

"But it's still tied! See? So no- 
body could have turned it right- 
side out. It looks the same on both 

"No, it don't. The other side got 



magnetic paint on it Thafs why 
the balloon got ripples in it" 

Ron had been standing around 
looking impatient and he said, 
"Tommy, there's no such thing as 
magnetic paint" 

"There is, too," Tommy said. "I 
made it" 

"How did you make it?" 

"You mix up silver paint like 
you use for Christmas Arrange- 
ments and you add that silver glit- 
ter that you sprinkle and then you 
add all the old magnets you have 
around and you stir it good." 

"How many old magnets?" I 

"Lots and lots and lots." 

"Then what?" 

"Then you turn the balloon in- 
side out and blow it up anji pinch 
the end with a clothes pin and paint 
it and theivwhen it's dry you let 
the air out." 

"And just why do you do all 
this?" Ron asked. 

f THHAT was a silly question and 
■*■ Tommy didn't bother to answer 

"What about the magnets?" I 

"You bury them in the back 

"Oh. And do metal things stick 
on the magnetic paint?" 

"Well — hair does, if you brush 
it first." 

"Metal things." 

"I think they do. A teeny bit. But 

now it's all on the wrong side and 
it's ruined." 

"I have to get to work," Ron said. 

"Here, catch." I tossed the bal- 
loon to Tommy. 

It stayed up in the middle of the 

"See?" Tommy said. "It's no 
good no more." 

We all stood staring, in a state of 

"It's a funny shape," Ron said 
finally. "Those puckers sort of go 
in and if you follow that striated 
band ... if you follow . . ." 

I was trying to follow it with my 
eyes, too. 

". . . you get vertigo," Ron fin- 
ished, looking off in another direc- 

"Yes, you do," I said. "Well, we 
can't just leave it here. Tommy, 
would you like to take it to show 
Miss Potter?" 

"Miss Potter, hell!" Ron ex- 
claimed. "There's something extra- 
ordinary about this. I'm going to 
take it down to work with me and 
let the boys at the lab have a look 
at it. I've never seen anything that 
just stayed in mid-air like that. You 
notice it doesn't seem to float, as it 
would if it contained a gas, and . . ." 

But I was busy apologizing to 
Barbara for Tommy's manners and 
assuring her the Hogarth Curve 
was beautiful. 

I pinned the left-over camellia 
in my hair, because I felt I de- 
served something, and Ron said 



he'd drop Tommy and me off at 

"Isn't it marvelous," I asked Ron 
as I wiped off the windshield, be- 
cause Tommy kept huffing on it, 
"to have a son who's an important 
scientist before the age of six?" 

"Now don't be getting delusions 
of grandeur about him," Ron said. 
"Whatever you and he made was 
purely accidental." 

"That goes to show what you 
know about the scientific method. 
I was making a Moebius Arrange- 
ment and Tommy was making the 
roundest thing in the whole world, 
and when you're working on some- 
thing and something else happens, 
something scientifically important, 
it's called — I can't remember what 
it's called, but it's a perfectly good 
word beginning with R. Or maybe 

"Serendipity. But you and Tom- 
my . . . Never mind." 

T ATER on in the morning, Ron 
■■-^ called to tell me to go see a 
man named Craddock over at the 
lab, and I'd have to go by myself 
because Ron was busy, and I said, 
"All right," but it wasn't all right. 
The thought of going to that 
strange place to talk to important 
men was terrifying. 

I opened my closet and looked 
unhappily through my inappropri- 
ate house dresses and equally in- 
appropriate party dresses. I finally 
decided on my black skirt, dark 

gray sweater and white cotton 
blouse, which I hoped would give 
the impression of a businesslike 

On the way down on the street- 
car, I found a woman staring at me 
and I realized I had been practic- 
ing my facial expression. It was the 
one where I hang a cigarette out of 
the side of my mouth, narrow my 
eyes to a slit, and say, "I'm Warner. 
You Craddock?" 

What actually happened was 
that an office boy said, "What are 
you so nervous about, lady?" and 
brought me through a maze of for- 
bidding-looking chambers and de- 
posited me on a bench facing a 
back that was, presumably, Crad- 

I sat there trying to decide 
whether to address him or just wait, 
when he turned, looked at me, and 
jumped two feet. 

"I didn't know anyone was 
there," he explained, and since he 
was the one who had acted a little 
silly, I felt much better about him 


I'm sorry," I said. "I was just 
sitting here trying to decide . . ." 
That wouldn't do. "My name's 
Warner," I said, omitting the facial 

"Dr. Warner?" 

"Sally Jo Warner." 

"And you discovered this new- 
force field?" 

"If you mean the right-side-in- 
side-out balloon," I answered, "yes. 



With my son. Thomas." I decided 
that if he was going to be a scien- 
tist, we should stop calling him 

f^ RADDOCK was one of those 
^^ thin, pale, freckled-all-over 
people with eyes the color of the 
rims of his horri-rimmed glasses 
and he wore the same general ex- 
pression of stubborn intentness 
that Tommy has. And I could 
sense in his expression the same 
scorn for me that Tommy so fre- 
quently has. 

"I'd like to discuss this with your 
son," he said. 

Of course. / couldn't be expected 
to say anything sensible. 

"Thomas has school in the morn- 
ings," I said. 

"Ah? Urn. Which school?" 

"Miss Nicholls." 



"It's a small private school. Kin- 
dergarten through third grade." 

"A third-grade child did this!" 

"No. Kindergarten. And I was 
not without influence in this dis- 
covery. I went to Grey Rock Junior 
College." * 

"Urn. Sciences?" 


"I mean what sciences?" 

"We learned all the sciences in 
one course. Chemistry, biology, 
physics and— well, I'd have to look 
in the book to remember the 

"Never mind," Craddock said, a 

shudder going through his slight, 
clattery frame. "Just tell me how 
you did this." He nodded at the 
balloon, which was encased in a 
glass box with a tube sort of thing 
leading into it. 

"Well, first you take an aspidis- 
tra leaf ..." I began, and went on 
from there. Craddock wrote it all 
down, though he kept saying, "I just 
don't see how the balloon fits into 
all this," and finally I said, "Now 
we get to the balloon. And the mag- 
netic paint." 

"Where did you get the magnetic 

"My colleague made it." 

Craddock was awfully picayu- 
nish about details. "How much 
silver paint? How much is 'the rest 
of a pack of glitter'?" Then he was 
disturbed because lots and lots and 
lots of magnets is eight. 

When I got to the part where 
Barbara made a Hogarth Curve out 
of my Moebius Strip, I asked him 
for a cigarette because I was still 
upset over it. 

"I know how you feel," Crad- 
dock said, being agreeable for the 
first time. "I don't think it's right 
to make a Hogarth Curve out of a 
Moebius Strip, either. I wouldn't 
even think it was possible." 

"Well, that's all," I said, and 
Craddock grabbed my cigarette be- 
fore I dropped it into what looked 
like an empty dish. "I have to rush 
off and pick up my colleague at 



N the way to Miss Nicholls, my 
mind was afire with ambition. 
Tommy would appear on TV. 
Everyone would forget about the 
time Tommy smeared Miss Pot- 
ter's chair with mucilage right be- 
fore she sat down. He'd be offered 
scholarships to MIT. He'd dictate 
articles for scientific journals and 

I'd write them up. 

And if anyone ever made re- 
marks about my thinking ability 
again, I'd just say, "My method 
produces results." 

About two o'clock that after- 
noon, Craddock called and bawled, 
"The force field is leaking! Another 
hour and it'll all be gone!" 

"Stop sounding as though it's my 
fault," I said. 

"Sorry. I'm just anxious." 

"Why don't you catch the drip- 
pings in a pot or something?" 

"We tried to. But you should see 
the cloud chamber." 

I said, "I'm sure the cloud cham- 
ber is very interesting," because it 
was none of his business if I didn't 
know what a cloud chamber was. 

"The lines just wiggle and dis- 
appear into another dimension. I 
don't know how else to describe it" 

"What's making it leak?" 

"There's something unusual in 
the nuclei of the atoms. They're 

"Tommy blew up the balloon," I 
said, and wondered if he had cavi- 
ties, though of course it was a dif- 
ferent kind of decay. Still the 


thought made me a little nervous. 

"We're getting photographs of 
everything," Craddock went on, 
"but what's worrying us is that we 
haven't been able to duplicate the 
— uh — experiment." 

I'll bet you didn't soak the 
aspidistra in glycerin. You couldn't 
have. There hasn't been time." 

"Glycerin wouldn't have any- 
thing to do with it. For that matter, 
neither would the aspidistra." 

"Plants," I informed him, "even 
dried ones, have all sorts of influ- 
ence. If you put a bouquet of roses 
in a room, the whole room and all 
the furniture is a different shape." 

"That's your subjective reaction. 
It's because you like roses." 

"There! That proves my point! 
Why does the lamb love Mary so?" 

i^RADDOCK choked a little. 
V^ "Mrs. Warner . : . all right, 
why does the lamb love Mary so?" 

"They learn things like this at 
Miss Nicholls," I pointed out. "The 
answer is, 'Mary loves the lamb, 
you know.' People like roses be- 
cause roses like people. Which 
means roses have something you 
don't know about." 

"All right , there are things I don't 
know. The first thing I don't know 
is how to carry on an intelligible 
conversation with you. But let's 
skip everything except what I 
called you for. Will you and your 
colleague please make another of 
those balloon affairs?" 



"I doubt if it can be done." 

"Why? If there are any mate- 
rials you need, I can certainly—" 

"It isn't that. It's - well, what- 
ever we do, ifs going to be a little 
bit different. And I don't know if 
Tommy can find where he turied 
the magnets. But I'll try." 

But before I went shouting 
around for Tommy, I called Bar- 
bara, because something had oc- 
curred to me while I was talking 

_ • 

to Craddock and it was only decent 
to tell Barbara. 

"What time," I asked, "do the 
judges come around tonight?" 

"About seven-thirty," Barbara 

"I'm sorry, but you ought to 
know. We're not going to win." 


"Your Hogarth Curve," I said, 
thinking of the leaking balloon, "is 
going to droop at three o'clock," 
and left the explanation for later. 

I found Tommy in the back 
yard, deeply involved with sticks 
and bits of string and old nails. 

I knew immediately and sadly 
what he was doing. 

It was too bad Tommy wasn't 
going to be a famous scientist be- 
fore the age of six, but that was 
mostly just a joke. And it was too 
bad the Eastbank Garden Group 
wasn't going to win a prize in the 
Federated Gardens Show, but it 
was no longer my Arrangement, 

anyway, and Barbara's always 
winning other prizes for us. And it 
was too bad Craddock wasn't go- 
ing to have his force field, but he 
hadn't been very nice about the 
whole thing. 

No, the real tragedy was that 
Tommy was going to be bitterly 
unhappy about something I had 
absolutely no control over. 

CALLED Craddock and tried 
to explain to him why Tommy 
would never in the world get inter- 
ested in making another Moebius 
Strip thing. And there's no way to 
make a child create . something, 
any more than you can make him 

"You see," I told Craddock, who 
was sputtering helplessly on the 
other end of the line, "he's already 
made the roundest thing in the 
whole world. It's not really hard to 
make the roundest thing in the 
whole world. I mean, things tend 
to be round, and all you have to 
do is follow a tendency. But now 
he's working on something else and 
he'll keep at it and won't think 
about anything else and it's going 
to be tragic when he finds out it 
just can't be done." 

"And what is he trying to do?" 
Craddock managed to say. 

"He's trying to make the 

squarest thing in the whole world." 



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To five different and exciting 
lives, all I had to do was sign 
here— and give up my own life! 

Illustrated by MORROW 

LOOKING out the window, 
I saw them crossing the 
court toward the building — 
two of them. One, the taller with 
yellow hair, was carrying a flat, ex- 
pensive briefcase, and the other, 
of course, was carrying the large 
square box that contained the Sim. 
The buzzer sounded, announc- 
ing them at the door, and I opened 
it with mixed feelings. I wasn't 
sure myself how I would act and— 

well, you hear so many stories 
about EL, and this was really my 
first contact with them. 

They were standing out in front, 
looking just like a couple of door- 
to-door salesmen. And that's just 
what they were, even if they were 
called Electro Medical Consul- 
tants. Just a fancy name for sales- 

They were very neat in appear- 
ance, just as good salesmen should 



be. Their hats looked new and so 
did their shoes. 

"Ah, Mr. Gaines," said the yel- 
low-haired one, sticking out his 
neatly manicured but definitely 
masculine hand, "I'm very happy 
to meet you, sir." His grin could 
only be described as sincerely 

"Come in," I said, feeling like 
smiling back, so effectively pleas- 
ant were their grins. "Come in and 
sit down, won't you?" 

So they came in, doffing their 
hats, and sat down in two chairs 
that I ordinarily didn't use. They 
seemed to know instinctively 
which was my favorite chair. Oh, 
they were smooth! 

"Now, Mr. Gaines," said the 
light-haired man, "perhaps I should 
start off with a little introduction 
all around and a short explanation 
of what Electronic Living can 
mean to you." 

No one had mentioned EL up 
to that point, yet they knew with- 
out a doubt that I had correctly 
identified them. Talk about con- 
fidence—it was like a physical force 
in the room. 


I'm Jake Long and this is Arnie 
Blik," said the light-haired one, ris- 
ing and gripping my hand with a 
warm, dry, just right handshake. 

"Pleased to meet you," said Blik, 
gripping my hand in turn with an 
identical warm, dry, just right 

"I'm going to ask you for a bit 

of your time," said Long, "and I 
certainly hope you can grant us a 
few minutes without too much in- 




MURMURED something 
about having plenty of time. 
That was a laugh, and he and I both 
knew it. I had so little to do, I al- 
most welcomed them just for sheer 
entertainment value. 

"Well, that's fine," said Long, 
"but rest assured we aren't going to 
try to waste any of your time. We 
intend to make it short and sweet, 
as they say." He did such a good 
job of keeping up the fiction of me 
being a busy man that I almost be- 
lieved it myself. 

"You probably know more about 
Electronic Living than I do," he 
said, and I felt for an instant that 
I did, "but we'll go over it anyway 
just so you understand me a little 
better. You'll remember back in 
1958-1959 there was a lot of work 
done — or I should say a beginning 
made — in developing an electronic 
eye for people who had lost their 
eyesight. This was a start of Elec- 
tronic Living in its crudest form. 
These early pioneers, using what 
little knowledge was available of 
the brain then, were actually able 
to insert a probe in the brain and 
enable the blind person to 'see' 
light. At first it was just the dif- 
ference between light and dark, but 
after a while they did develop a 
kind of vision — and then finally, 


after much work, the system grew 
into actual electronic vision. 

"This was, as I said, the start of 
Electronic Living because it ad- 
vanced the basic premise that the 
brain can utilize outside electrical 
impulses for its own purposes. 
And of course it wasn't long be- 
fore some experimenters had 
rigged up a human television re- 
ceiver. What they did was set up 
a series of brain probes which 
were directly connected to a small 
television receiving apparatus, and 
the subject could then 'see' the 
broadcast image without the use 
of his eyes. 

"Since this rough beginning, we 
at El have done a lot of work, and 
we are now able to reproduce 
every sort of physical sensation 
known to man through electronic 
brain connections. 

"And recently, as a further re- 
finement, we have been able to 
capture internal brain voltages 
and use them to reproduce 
thoughtlike sensations. Unfortu- 
nately, these are still in the realm 
of strong emotions and not true 
thoughts, but they are extremely 

"Now, it is this combination of 
physical sensation voltages and in- 
ternal brain voltages, when fed 
into your brain from a simple tape 
like this, that produces what we 
call Electronic Living.' 

With that he pulled a piece of 
tape out of his pocket as if pro- 

ducing an elephant 



RNIE Blik hadn't said a word 
up to this point. He had hung 
on every word his partner uttered 
as though it were all new to him. 
Now he took up the song. 

"May I ask if you've ever ex- 
perienced Electric Living?" he 

"No," I said. I really had once 
or twice, but I figured it was none 
of his business. 

"Ah. Well, if you have no ob- 
jection, I'd like to use this Simu- 
lator here for a few minutes and 
give you a bare idea of what's go- 
ing on in Electronic Living today." 

"Sure," I said. "Go right ahead." 

Blik opened up the Sim and 
fished out a hat that was shaped 
much like a medieval knight's hel- 
met, except that it had a couple of 
big fat wires connected to it at 
the back. 

"Just a moment while I tune it 
in," Blik said, lowering the helmet 
part way over his head. He closed 
his eyes and began fiddling with 
a series of small knots and buttons 
which were mounted inside the 
case. Finally he took it off his head 
and approached me, carrying this 
ridiculous helmet like it was a 
crown on a velvet pillow. 

"You will be experiencing a bas- 
ketball player," he said, and 
plopped it down over my head. 

When the helmet came down, 



there was a momentary blank per- 
iod, and then suddenly I was a 
basketball player who was playing 
a fast professional game. I was 
good, or should say he was? He 
felt exultation because his team 
was ahead and he'd put them 
there with a difficult shot. I could 
feel the pounding of his heart and 
the strain of his chest as he gulped 
in huge quantities of air. His eyes 
ranged around the court, following 
his teammates and opponents. 

It was something, all right, but 
not everything, because on top of 
the sensations and emotions of the 
basketball player, I was getting 
another series of feelings and emo- 
tion which were my own. 

Superimposed on the other 
players on the court was the image 
of my own living room with the 
two men watching rpe. Over the 
smell of sweat of the basketball 
players came the odor of my apart- 
ment. Above the sensation of run- 
ning, jumping and colliding with 
other players was the sensation 
of sitting in my favorite chair with 
a weight on my head. 

In short, I was two people at 
cne time. 

Even the emotions of the bas- 
ketball player — joy at making a 
basket, a flare of rage at a rough 
opponent, and the surge of hope 
that a teammate would come 
through — were clouded over with 
my own emotions of not complete- 
ly accepting as right the whole 

concept of EL, coupled with the 
feeling that I didn't want to show 
any reaction in front of the EL 

After a short time, Blik re- 
moved the Sim, and the basketball 
player's Life Experience faded 
away. The two EL men looked at 
me expectantly. 

"Hmmm," I said, forcing myself 
to appear neutral. They did not 
seem to be disappointed by my 
reaction or lack of it. 

UITE an experience, wasn't 
it?" said Blik, putting the 
Sim down on the floor. "Of course 
you realize that you don't get the 


full effect because you actually 
have two primary sets of electric 
images going into the brain. We 
never have been able to overcome 
the subject's own real physical 
and mental sensation with a de- 
vice that works outside the skull." 

"But I'm sure Mr. Gaines get? 
the idea," said Long. 

I'm sure I do," I said. The 
damn thing was plenty intriguing, 
but somehow, despite all its good 
points, I wasn't really sold on it. 

"Perhaps you'd be interested in 
the kind of thing we have pro- 
grammed for our EL subscribers," 
said Long with a kindly smile. "If 
you are someone who likes active 
sports, we can give you an evening 
of that kind of thing. We don't pro- 
gram sports in the daytime or early 
evening because it interferes with 








the regular sports consumers, but 
it's nice to have later on in the 
evening if you like it." 

I nodded in what I hoped was 
a cold manner. 

"Perhaps you'd like the milieu 
built up around a hard-working 
farmer or laborer for a daytime 
program. A certain amount of 
physical labor which is coupled 
with a strong emotion of accom- 
plishment and pride. An excellent 
milieu and one of our most popu- 
lar currently." 

"Very interesting," I said non- 
commitally, intrigued in spite of 

Then it was Blik's turn. "If you 
are interested in the social type 
of thing, we have several new mil- 
ieus that fit right in with this sort 
of thing. I can recall one of a 
formal dinner party which has 
strong emotional connotations of 
well-being and a sense of — gran- 
deur — yes, grandeur in the old 
meaning of the word. And in this 
same milieu it is possible to get 
the bon-vivant type of thing. You 
know, the raconteur who is a real 
spellbinder. That has a strong emo- 
tion of ego-fulfillment." 

"Very interesting," I said again, 
"but it doesn't quite fill the bill as 
far as I'm -" 

"Arnie, we've been overlooking 
the obvious," said Long. "Mr. 
Gaines is looking more for the in- 
tellectual type of Life Experience. 
Now, I recall one of a sculptor 

which has a fine feel to it. Ex- 
tremely intellectual and yet artis- 
tically creative, if you know what 
I mean. And then there's an ex- 
tremely thrilling milieu dealing 
with a symphony conductor in 
which there is an absolute physi- 
cal thrill that is audio-inspired. 
Just the thing for anyone who is 
an audiophile, I'd say." 

I had to admit that it was be- 
ginning to sound more appealing 
all the time and I found myself 
wondering just which Life Experi- 
ence one would pick first if he 
were to go EL. 

"Of course," said Blik, with a 
manly grin, "we have the thing 
we call our 'playboy milieu' which 
is strictly a sensual sort of a thing. 
It often appeals rather strongly to 
new subscribers, although I have 
to warn you that it soon becomes 
an Experience which palls on you." 

T¥E almost had me with that 
-■■■■- one, because after all I have 
normal male curiosity and all that, 
and naturally it's always these 
"playboy milieus" that you hear 
the most about among people who 
are non-EL subscribers. Yes, for a 
minute or two there, I was teeter- 
ing on the brink, but my better 
sense did ultimately win out and 
I could feel the emotion of resist- 
ance welling up inside me. 

"Well, actually, gentlemen, it 
isn't a case of not finding the right 
milieu, because I'm sure you have 



anything that I could ever want. 
It's more on philosophical grounds 
that I find that I hesitate to go 
along with Electronic Living," I 
said boldly. Just saying it gave me 
a tremendous lift. 

"Ah," said Long, looking at the 
ceiling and making a tent of his 
fingers in front of his chest. "I al- 
ways enjoy talking with a man 
who has a philosophical bent. In 
fact," he said, unfolding the tent 
and leaning close to me and lower- 
ing his voice a little, "it's the one 
big pleasure I get out of this job." 

"I'm afraid that I have to agree 
with you there, Jack," said Blik, 
digging his toe into the rug in a 
distinctly boyish manner. 

^YJf/'HY don't you sort of fill us 
™ in on your thinking, Mr. 

Gaines?" urged Long. 

"Well," I said, feeling warm un- 
der the collar and allowing my hand 
to tremble slightly with emotion 
as I got into what I now realized 
was the meat of my resistance to 
EL. "Well, let's take it from the 
word go. If I sign up with you 
now, I'll go down to the Electronic 
Living Center tomorrow or the 
next day and they'll take me into 
an operating room and put some 
tiny probes into my brain, and 
aside from a momentary twinge or 
two, I won't feel a thing. And then 
when it's over I'll walk out of the 
room looking just the way I did 
before, except that I'll have a neat 

little connection mounted high on 
the left side of my head where it 
can oe tastefully covered with hair 
when not in use. 

"And I'll probably come back 
to this apartment to find the Elec- 
tronic Living Machine installed in 
that corner, tastefully decorated 
to look like an old-fashioned an- 
tique bookcase, or a modern bar, 
or whatever I want it to look like. 
But whatever it looks like, there 
will be a comfortable chair unob- 
trusively attached to the ELM and 
sooner or later I'll sit down in that 
chair and read over the list of Life 
Experiences and select one. 

"Then I'll sink back in the chair 
and the little connection on my 
head will fit neatly into another 
little connection on the chair, be- 
cause my chair will fit only me, 
and it will fit me perfectly. 

"And then, while I drift off to 
EL-land, the chair will unfold 
arcund me so that all sight and 
sound and almost all feeling will 
disappear and I'll be like a chrysa- 
lis in a cocoon. 

"So for two or three or eight 
hours I'll stay inside the cocoon, 
living another person's life. And 
while I'm in there, everyone will 
be sighing a sigh of relief that 
here is another potential producer 
who has finally given up the ghost 
and turned consumer. 

"Then when the tape is through, 
the cocoon will open and I'll wake 
up tired or refreshed or satiated or 



somehow changed, and then I'll 
get out to the food center and dial 
a meal or call someone up, or go 
out and walk around or some- 

I WAS really getting wound up, 
but Long broke in on me. "Tell 
me a little more," he said, "about 
that one idea, will you? You know, 
the idea about how you will give 
up being a producer and will be 
all consumer?" 

"I was just coming to that," I 
said hotly. "Yes, they'll probably 
enroll my name on the EL sub- 
scribers roll with a big cheer, and 
all my non-EL friends will hear 
about it and they'll raise their 
eyebrows, or maybe they'll sign 
up too. 

"But the point is this. Is it 
right for me, a big, strong, healthy 
human being with powers of per- 
ception and reasoning and a capa- 
bility for work and creativeness— 
is it right for me to substitute this 
dream world of EL for actual real 
thinking, or doing, or creating? 
Do any of us have the right to sub- 
vert our normal impulses for crea- 
tion and for living in this way?" 

"A good question," said Long 
with a sigh. "I'm afraid he's put it 
in pretty unanswerable terms, all 
right. Except for one minor point, 
I couldn't help but agree with 
everything he said, in spite of the 
fact that I — well, I'm sold on EL, 

We sat for a while just sort of 
gazing around at nothing. 

Finally Blik spoke up. "What 
was that one point that you dis- 
agreed on Jack?" he asked his 
partner. "I've been running Mr. 
Gaines' statement over in my mind 
and I can't seem to find the flaw 
ycu mentioned." 

'Oh, it was nothing." said Long 
impatiently. "Just a minor point." 

"No, I mean it," said Blik. "I'd 
really like to know." 

"Not worth talking about. Let's 
pack up and not take any more 
of Mr. Gaines' time." 

"Come on, Jack, tell me what it 
was," said Blik, in a rather posi- 
tive way, I thought. 

"Really, Arnie," said Long, fir- 
ing up a little, "take it easy, will 
you? We don't want to have to 
argue about some little point that 
doesn't mean anything. Just forget 

His attitude changed quickly 
from irritation to downright nasti- 
ness. Apparently, as head of the 
sales team, he wasn't going to take 
anything from a subordinate. It 
kind of irritated me in turn, be- 
cause he gave me the impression 
that he felt as if he was too good 
to talk with us about it. 

"All right, all right," said Blik, 
"the hell with it. So it was a minor 

"Why not tell him?" I asked 
Long, cutting in quickly as Blik 
made a move to pack up the Sim. 




I ONG turned toward me with a 
" supercilious look that put me 
in the same category as assistants 
who had the temerity to question 
the boss. Then in an instant the 
mask returned and he was just as 
polite and smooth as ever — but 
I'd' seen the crack in the slickness 
before he changed. It really got me 
where I live. That's one thing I 
can't stand — an assault on the 
ego by a slick bum like that, who 

thinks he's so good. 

"Oh, I don't see how it can be 
that small a point," I said. "Espe- 
cially if you thought of it." I said 
the last part as insultingly as I 
knew how, and I saw the color rise 
in his face. 

"Yes, speak up," said Blik, sid- 
ing with me. "He's got a right to 

"All right," said Long with some 
asperity that even the professional 
mask couldn't hide, "but I warn 
you that it's strictly a minor 

"So it's a minor," said Blik." Tell 



"The point is," said Long, after 
a short pause to collect his 
thoughts, "that EL fills a need for 
some people. You see, with the 
big upsurge in automation years 
ago, it got harder and harder for 
a production-oriented economy to 
survive. Jobs got fewer and easier. 
People were thrown out of work. 
During the early years of automa- 
tion, there was a lot of population 

displacement because of a lack of 
jobs, and this made for a lot of 
economic juggling which really 
didn't help matters. 

"It wasn't until some ten years 
ago that people finally came to 
the conclusion that production was 
outstripping the need for labor and 
that, in fact, production was begin- 
ning to become a burden on the 
economy. And so they turned 
things around a bit. Instead of giv- 
ing rewards and subsidies to the 
production end of the economy, 
they began giving it to the con- 
suming end. That was really the 
only way out of the hole. 

"But it was soon found that peo- 
ple are not merely organisms 
geared to consume. At first it was 
grand and glorious, but after a bit 
the urge to create, to work, to 
think began to assert itself strong- 
ly, and that's where EL came 
along. EL was developed to give 
unsatisfied people satisfactions that 
they couldn't get anywhere else. 
They couldn't be allowed to pro- 
duce because that was what was 
wrecking things. So they had to 
be provided with a synthetic 'pro- 

"Today these producer-minded 
people can get any sort of satisfac- 
tion they need from EL, and it 
keeps them from wandering around 
trying to produce something that 
would just be a hindrance. After 
all, what we need is consumership, 
not production. 



"But that's a relatively minor 
point, as I said earlier," Long con- 
cluded looking at me with a su- 
perior air. "It's such a minor point, 
it won't even bear discussion. ,, 

TTIS manner, underneath the 
■*--*• slick facade, implied that he 
wouldn't deign to discuss it with 
two peasants like Blik and me un- 
der any circumstances. 

"Just a minute " I said. "It's nor 
a minor point at all. It seems to 
me that you've hit the core of the 

"A minor point," insisted Long, 
his eyes blazing, although his face 
retained the mask of the smiling 

"Perhaps I didn't make myself 
clear," I said. "Have you ever 

stopped to think that if you take 
EL into the larger picture, it does 
serve a purpose, and perhaps we 
are all here for a different reason 
than I had originally discussed? 
Maybe the thing to be is a super- 
consumer — maybe definitive con- 
sumership is the most vital thing 
in our life, not the production of 

"Well, that's an idea, sure 
enough," said Blik suddenly. He 
had been silent during the flare- 
up between Long and me. "But I 
can't help but think," he continued, 
"that your original argument was 
a little tighter. The old virtues do 
have a place, don't they?" 

You see how slick, how well- 

trained, how cunning they were? 
When Blik opened his mouth, the 
bubble burst, and I knew that they 
had neatly switched me around to 
where I was arguing against my- 
self. Up until the instant Blik 
started talking, I was actually sell- 
ing myself on EL, and the truth 
was that I had almost completed 
the job by that time. If he had re- 
mained silent, I probably would 
have signed the contract — I think 
I would have fought to sign it 

I felt an emotion of strength 
and power then. A top EL team 
had given me the works and I had 
seen through them. They still 
didn't know they had lost, but they 
would — just as soon as I opened 
my mouth to speak. The emotion 

of victory is sweeter than almost 
anything else, and all the sweeter 
for having skirted defeat. 

"You know, Arnie," I said, "I 
agree with you. The old virtues 
are best. I think EL is a living 

Jt was a sight to see, believe 
me. Their slick, slick faces folded 
like paper houses in a hurricane. 
Blik's hands were shaking as he 
bent over and started packing up 
the Sim without another word. 
You have to be good to know that 
fast that you have lost irrevocably. 

They got up then and scooped 
their hats up from the floor and 
put them on. The gracious, gentle- 
manly conduct was a thing of the 



"Tell me," said Long, his hand 
on the door, the edge of the EL 
contract peeking untidily out of 
his expensive briefcase, "where did 
we make our mistake?" 

I laughed a good loud whoop. It 
felt good. "It was when Arnie here 
switched sides." 

"Stupid fool," said Long, look- 
ing as though he wanted to slam 
the square box containing the Sim 
over Blik's head. 

"Sorry, old man," Blik said, col- 
oring a deep red. "I'll try to make 
it up next time." 

"Not with me, you won't," said 
Long. "Technician!" 

They opened the door and 
went out. I jigged with glee as I 
looked out the window and 
watched them cross the court. 
Long was walking along in a high 
dudgeon, his briefcase swinging 
angrily with every step. Blik was 
trotting along to one side and be- 
hind him, his shoulders slumped, 
defeat written all over his form 
and walk. 

I LOOKED around as the wall 
■*■ swung open and Rommy 
walked in with his hand out- 

"Congratulations!" he said, beam- 
ing widely. "It was perfect! My 
God, it's a delight for a director 
to work with a real group of com- 
petent actors. All three of you 
were perfect!" 

"Thanks," I said. "I hope I was 

as good as you think when we play 
the tape back." I felt along the 
base of my skull where the trans- 
mitter hung encased in Natur-fiesh 
and covered with fake hair. I could 
hardly believe it was there, it felt 
so natural. 

Rommy looked out the window. 
Long and Blik were walking back 
through the gate, talking and wav- 
ing their arms the way people do 
when they're excited about doing 
a good job. 

"There's a pair of sweethearts," 
said Rommy. "Real actors, those 
boys. I checked out the transmis- 
sion right up to the last minute 
and they really gave out — you 
couldn't find a quiver of disbelief 
or strain. They felt it." 

"So did I," I said, sitting down 
and putting my feet up on a low 
table on the set. "Tell me, Rom- 
my, what in hell is EL going to use 
these tapes for, anyway? It seems 
to me it would be sort of danger- 
ous to put all this on tape." 

"We couldn't tell you before be- 
cause it might have spoiled your 
reactions, but we have a lot of EL 
subscribers who are down deep op- 
posed to EL, and this tape will be 
sort of a catharsis for them. It'll 
give them a real jolt." 

"Oh, producer types who are 
struggling to become consumer 
types," I said. "They'll experience 
the role I just got through play- 
ing, and it will make them feel 
they didn't sign the contract, huh?" 



"There's more to it than that," 
said Rom my. "There are some 
people who just like to experience 
an extremely strong sales-resistant 
emotion, mostly because they're 
pushovers. We wouldn't make a 
tape like this just for the anti-EL 
jerks. It's too expensive." 

"Tell me," I said, "what are 
you using Long and Blik for? I 
thought I detected transmitters on 
them, too." 

"Just the opposite from what 
you were doing. Some people like 
to experience a setback or even a 
complete failure now and then. 
Sort of an opposite to the 'high' 
tapes. Lord knows we got hun- 

dreds of 'high' tapes, but not many 
low ones, so we're starting to build 
a library of them now. A lot of 
subscribers are getting tired of win- 
ning all the time and they'd like 
to experience a defeat or two once 
in a while just for the contrast." 

Long and Blik came in the 
door without knocking. 

Rommy was on his feet in an 

instant. "Boys," he shouted, "you 

were great! I checked the tapes 

and nobody could be lower than 

you guys walking out across that 

court. It was sensational. Probably 

the best thing that's ever been 

done here at EL Studios!" 




^fc . ^ 






Nothing can possibly be more baffling than 
a crime in a sealed room . . . but what if the 
investigator happens to have an open mind? 

Illustrated by FINLAY 



• ■ • 

I. TOOK a quick look around 
the apartment, even though 
I already knew what I had 
to know. 

Gordon Andrews had been slain 

in his sleep by the quick thrust of 
some rapierlike instrument. There 
was no sign of any struggle. The 



wall safe stood with its door open 
and its contents missing. Every 
door and window was closed, 
locked, burglar-bugged, and non- 
openable from the inside; the front 
door had been forced by the police. 
Furthermore, it had been raining in 
wind-whipped torrents for hours, 
yet there was no trace of moisture 
on any of the floors. 

Of course no one had heard a 
sound, and naturally there were no 

Police Chief Weston spied me 
and snapped, "What do you make 
of it, Schnell?" 

I shrugged and said, "Complete- 
ly sealed room." 

"Got any ideas?" he demanded. 

I had a lot of ideas, but I was 
not going to express myself with- 
out a lot of stark evidence. I do not 
yearn to have the prefix "ex-" in- 
stalled in front of my title of Cap- 
tain of Detectives. I'm much too 
young to be retired. So instead of 
trying to explain, I said, "The 
modus operandi is — " 

Chief Weston snorted, "Schnell, 
there isn't a clue in the whole 
damned building, and yet you stand 
there and yap about modus oper- 

"That's the point, Chief. The 
cluelessness is itself the modus op- 
erandi that points to — " 

"You talk as if we had a whole 
file of unsolved, clueless, sealed- 
room homicides!" 

crime' would be one in which no 
clue existed, including the fact of 
the crime itself — except those clues 
that were deliberately planned by 
the perpetrator for some purpose 

of his own." 


TIE glowered at me. "What are 
-■"■■ you driving at, Schnell?" 

I'm trying to convince you that 
we are faced with a very clever 
criminal mind," I said. "A man with 
a fine talent. One who plans his 
crimes so well that they aren't even 
recognized as criminal." 

"Nonsense. You can't conceal 
any crime forever." 

"Forever isn't necessary, Chief. 
Just long enough to cover up com- 
pletely, to remove all connection. 
We don't know how many bank 
tellers have been running on re- 
duced salary because they some- 
how paid out a hundred in cashing 
a ten-dollar check. We couldn't de- 
mand an audit of all the big finan- 
cial accounts in town, to know the 
why and wherefore of the transfer 
of any sum of money larger than 
the limit of petty larceny." 

"But now you are talking about 
a sly, clever operator, Schnell. This 
is a plain case of homicide and 

Plain? Was he kidding himself? 

I smiled crookedly. "Chief, there 
is no doubt in my mind that our 
crook intended to clean out Gpr- 
don Andrews' safe without disturb- 

"Chief," I said, "a true 'perfect ing a soul. But the imminent 



awakening of Andrews presented 
a physical threat that had to be 
silenced immediately." 

"So that is the work of your sly 

"Chief, just remember that Gor- 
don Andrews was an eccentric old 
sourpuss who hated to do business 
with bankers. Now let's suppose 
that Andrews had awakened in the 
morning to find his safe cleaned 
out. He screeches for the cops. We 
come a-roaring in with the finger- 
print detail and the safe specialists 
and the break-in experts. We find," 
I said with a wave of my hand, 
"everything just as we found it here 
and now. So we look Gordon An- 
drews in the eye and tell him that 
no one could get in, no one had 
gotten in, and that we suspect him 
of cleaning out his own safe and 
yelling 'Copper' to make trouble 
for the Mayor and the Commis- 
sioner, who refused to appoint him 
a special detail of city employees 
for bodyguards last year." 

"Go on, Schnell," said Chief 
Weston with deadly patience. 

"The homicide was a spur-of- 
the-moment necessity. Had it been 
planned, the crook would have 
plugged Andrews with the old 
man's personal Banker's Special, 
which he kept on the bedside table, 
and made it look like suicide." 

"Know a lot about Andrews, 
don't you, Schnell?" 

"What do you mean, Chief?' , 
"About the Banker's Special." 

"I have an excellent memory," I 
said. "Andrews had a license for 
the thing. The serial number is 
233,467,819 and the gun and 
license were acquired on August 
seventh, 1951." 

r T , HE Chief sarcastically grunted, 
■*• "Has it been fired since?" 

"It was fired six times at the date 
of delivery by the police laboratory 
for the land-mark records," I said. 

"Let's - not try being funny, 
Schnell. This is a serious business. 
Andrews was an eccentric old cur- 
mudgeon, but he was also a philan- 
thropist, and the papers will be 
after our throats if we don't come 
up with this super-criminal." 
I "He's going to be damned tough, 

"Okay, this is your project. Noth- 
ing else matters until he's caught 
and convicted — of homicide com- 
mitted during the course of grand 
robbery, meaning automatic hot 

I nodded slowly. 

"Just remember, Schnell — the 
whole department's behind you," 
Chief Weston assured me. 

I continued to nod, but his assur- 
ance didn't reassure me in the least. 
With about ninety-eight per cent of 
the general public still not quite 
willing to accept rockets, missiles 
and space travel, I had a fat chance 
of convincing anybody that a tele-^ 
path had kept guard over the slum- 
bering mind of Gordon Andrews, 



while a perceptive solved the com- 
bination to the wall safe, so that a 
kinematic could twirl the dial; that 
the imminent awakening of Gordon 
Andrews had indeed been an immi- 
nent physical threat to a delicate 
extra-sensory undertaking, and 
that therefore he had been silenced 
by the kinematic, with a weapon 
located by the perceptive, after 
warning from the telepath; after 
which the crime had continued, 
with the loot being floated by a 
levitator along a freeway explored 
by the perceptive and scouted by 
the telepath and cleared of barriers 
by the kinematic who opened and 
debugged them as he went along — 
— and that the real topper for 
this whopper was that this opera- 
tion was not the integrated effort 
of a clever gang of extra-sensory 
specialists, but rather the single- 
handed accomplishment of one 
highly talented Psi-man! 

A Psi-man ruthless enough to 
kill before he would permit his 
victim to watch the turning dial, 
the floating loot, the opening portal, 
simply because there stood a proba- 
bility that one of the two billion 
persons on Earth might suspect the 
phenomena as parapsychical activ- 
ity, instead of the hallucinatory 
ravings of a rich old eccentric who 
hated the incumbent political 

How best to keep a secret? 

Let no one suspect that any 
secret exists! 


HPHE rain was still coming down 
■*■ in wind- whipped torrents that 
slatted along the avenue in drench- 
ing sheets. Huddled in the scant 
cover of the apartment door was a 
girl of about eighteen. The rain- 
coat she wore was no protection; 
the wind drove the rain up under it. 
Womanlike, she was struggling 
with the ruins of a fashionable little 
umbrella instead of abandoning it 
for the tangled mess that it was. 

She looked at me as I opened the 
door. She was without guile. She 
was wet and miserable and deter- 
mined to take whatever help was 
proffered, and hope afterward that 
no unfair advantage would be taken 
of the situation. 

I showed her my I.D. card and 
she read: "Howard Schnell, Cap- 
tain, Special Detail." Her face 
changed from cautious immobility 
to a sort of wet animation, and she 
added as if it were important under 
the circumstances to be completely 
open, "I'm Florence Wood." 

I took the ruined umbrella from 
her unresisting hand and stood it 
in the /oyer for the janitor to dis- 
pose of, and pointed out across the 
rain-ponded sidewalk to the police 
car. It was almost high noon, but 
the rain was so heavy that the 
identity of the car was by no means 
conspicuous from the apartment 
door. Florence Wood nodded as she 
caught sight of it. 



I said, "Now, I'll make a run for 
it and open the door, and get in 
first so that I'll be on the driver's 


side. As soon as I'm out of your 
way, just dive in and don't worry 
about closing the door until you're 
out of this rain. Catch?" 

She nodded. 

"I'd play Sir Galahad and give 
you my foul-weather gear to wear," 
I said, "but you're already so wet 
that it wouldn't do more than keep 
the water in" 

She smiled at me understand- 

Then she looked at me with curi- 
osity because I was standing there 
waiting instead of making my dash 
immediately. I thought of how my 
Psi-man could have floated the loot 
out of an open window and kept 
the rain from soaking the floor at 
the same time. 

So, to make conversation, I said, 
I'm waiting until my will power 
builds up enough to overcome the 
forces of gravity, barometric pres- 
sure, and the rest of whatever goes 
into the making of a howling down- 
pour like this. Considering that 
nature is dissipating energy equal 
to a couple of hundred atom bombs 
per second, it takes a bit of time 
to collect the necessary amount of 
mental power." 

Florence Wood laughed. In mere 
instants she'd changed from 

weather-drenched misery to a 
cheerful sort of discomfort no worse 
than many a human has endured 


for hours at a football game. She 
said with amusement, "Captain 
Schnell, why don't you start the 
car. and drive it over here? Seems 
to me it would take less power 
than stopping this storm." 

"The law says that it is consid- 
ered unlawful to operate a motor 
vehicle from any position other 
than the driver's seat," I replied. 


HEN the slack in the storm 
I'd been anticipating finally 
arrived, I took advantage of it to 
make my run across the sidewalk. 
Miss Wood followed: her timing 
was perfect. Everything happened 
in a continuous sequence without a 
stoppage at any point. The door 
opened and I went in, landing hard 
and bouncing deliberately on the 
seat springs to hunch myself over; 
Miss Wood landed and whirled in 
a flurry of wet skirt and clammy 
raincoat, hauling one rain-booted 
ankle out of the way as the door 
swung closed with a solid and satis- 
fying thunk. 

I started the car and let the en- 
gine idle to warm it up and dry it 
off. Then I said, "Part of my duty 
to the citizen includes protection 
of his health and comfort as well 
as protection from unlawful be- 
havior. So, where do you wish to 
be taken?" 

She regarded me out of clear 
gray eyes. "Don't you know?" she 
asked with a quirk at the corner of 
her mouth. 



"Do I look like a mind reader?" 
"Well, you did slow down the 

I laughed. "Miss Wood, King 
Canute would have been a hero 
instead of a bum if he'd waited 
until high water before he told the 
tide to stop. Now, what gave you 
any reason to suppose that I am 
endowed with special talents?" 

"Well," she said, fumbling 
through her handbag for the comb, 
which naturally was at the bottom, 
"you did come along when I 
needed help, and you did identify 
yourself when I so much wanted to 
know — " 

about a little courtroom drama 
where twelve good telepaths and 
true are reading the mental testi- 
mony of a witness who had located 
some vital bit of evidence by per- 
ception and brought it to light by 
kinematic power." 

"Well, it does seem that any 
truly gifted person would work for 
the good of humanity." 

"I doubt that being gifted with 
a sense of perception would auto- 
matically endow a man with a sense 
of honor." 

"But doesn't it seem just awful 
to think of anything as miraculous 
as telepathy being used for — 
for - " 

She was trying to avoid the word 
"immoral" because she was of an 
age and experience that felt sensi- 
tive about its use. Unfortunately 
the only substitute was the word 

I came to her rescue. "It's deplor- 
able but true that nothing was ever 
developed for the benefit of man- 
kind without a few sharpshooters 
quickly figuring out some way to 
make it pay them a dishonest 

"But it would be frightfully hard 
to bamboozle a telepathic police- 
man, wouldn't it?" she asked hope- 

T THOUGHT of my PSI-man, 

-■■ whose only mistake in the 
sealed room murder of Gordon 
"You've been moonbeaming Andrews had been in being so good 

"And since I also remembered 
that storms as violent as this always 
have lulls, you put two and two 
together? Well, it doesn't require 
telepathy to conclude that you are 
soaked to the skin, that you need 
and want help, and that you'd pre- 
fer to know just whom you are 
driving off in a car with< Any other* 
ideas about my talents?" 
"Well, I should think - " 
"Address first, Miss Wood." 
She gave me an address in a resi- 
dential district that was the maxi- 
mum distance one could get from 
City Hall and still enjoy the privi- 
lege of paying city taxes. I started 
the car and headed in that direc- 
tion. Then I said, "Now, Miss 
Wood, let's go on with your little 









Give the gift you'd like to receive 



We admit it — we're pushovers for the Xmas spirit. "Don't 
do it," our accountant pleads. "We can't afford to sell subscrip- 
tions at those prices!" But our eye goes past his piteous figure 
to the distant corners of the land. "Readers straining budgets 
to introduce Galaxy to friends and relatives, and have enough 
scratch left over for their own subscriptions. We can't leave 
the job to them!" we thunder. "Galaxy must bear its share 
of the burden! And not only that — by the Lord Harry, 
we'll even include handsome Gift Card Announcements with 
their names as donors!" Out slouches our accountant, mutter- 
ing, "All right, but they'd better get their orders in before 
December 15, 1959" — so rush in your order today. 

Galaxy Publishing Corp., 421 Hudson St., New York 14, N.Y. 

Please enter Special Gift Subscriptions to the following and send gift card announcements. 
I enclose 




Offer #.... 
Sign Card 




Offer # 
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Address .... 


Offer # ... 
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that he'd actually disclosed the ex- 
istence of a criminal who employed 
Psi faculties. 

'Wouldn't that depend upon 
whether the policeman or the crimi- 
nal was the more talented?" I par- 
ried. "But that supposes that the 
police force would have a corps of 
Psi policemen." 

"Wouldn't they?" 

"Honey-chile," I said, ."at the 
first thin hint that the Commis- 
sioner was even interested in the 
possibility of hiring someone who 
knew what the term 'parapsychic 
phenomena' really meant, there 
would be a universal howl against 
'Thought Police' so loud that it 
would shatter the polar icecaps." 

"But why?" she asked, bewil- 

"They'd start screaming about 
invasion of privacy,' and cite the 
Bill of Rights, and that would be 

"You mean that the law has laws 
against telepathy?" 

"No, it doesn't say anything 
about telepathy," I admitted, 
knowing what was to come next. 

"Well, then?" 

"Don't sound so superior, Miss 
Wood. At the first attempt, the law 
would discover that it had a hell 
of a lot to say about telepathy and 
perception, since they'd definitely 
affect the interpretation of the 
Fourth and Fifth Amendments." 

"I know the Fifth," she said, "but 
how about the Fourth?" 


"Unreasonable and unwarranted 
search," I told her. 

"But isn't a man guilty when he's 

"I wish it were as simple as that." 

"Bur why isn't it?" 

"Little Miss Wood, you are now 
asking me to solve an ethical ques- 
tion that's been unanswered for 
more than ten thousand years." I 
smiled wistfully. "I am not — 
peat not — big enough to answer 
the following question: 'Shall a 
killer in the confessional, who has 
been given absolution by his God, 
subsequently be punished by his 
fellow man?'" 

"But what has that to do with 

"Let's have you answer one: 
'Could you truly bare your secret 
soul to God if you suspected that 
some prying human being was tak- 
ing it all down on a tape recorder?' " 

"No, I suppose not." 

"Then our Thought Police' 
would be standing as a human bar- 
rier between any man and his 

"I suppose so — but couldn't I 


"Tell whether someone was lis- 
tening to my thoughts?" 

That was another stumper. Does 
the sign wear out any faster if it's 
read? Can the radio transmitter be 
measured to tell whether the broad- 
cast has any audience? Does the 
tree that falls in the forest barren 



of animal life generate the same 
wave-motion as it would if all the 
leaves were replaced by active ear- 
drums? There are lots of analogs, 
but are any of them valid? 

I said, "If I cry out, how can I 
know whether I am being heard?" 

And in my mind I made my own 
reply. I thought in deep concentra- 
tion: "How do you read me, Psi- 

The response was zero-zero. And 
it meant— nothing. My Psi-man 
could have been following my 
every thought from the moment 
that my ringing telephone sum- 
moned me to Gordon Andrews' 
apartment to the present instant, 
so far as I could tell. There was no 
feeling of intrusion, no feeling of 



* "Going to stop the rain again, 

Captain Schnell?" 

The storm was still howling. In 
the near suburbs, the rain came in 
more gracefully draped sheets and 
the wind was not whirlpooled by 
the fluelike canyons between the 
buildings, but residential rainwater 
is just as wet per cubic centimeter 
as the metropolitan variety. 

"Maybe I should drive up over 
the lawn," I suggested. 

"Daddy would blow a fuse." 
"We might wait for it to let up." 
"I'd rather not," she said sober- 

ly. "It's one thing to be driven home 
in a strange car during a cloudburst, 
but it's something else to sit out 
here making it look as if I were 
paying off by making out." 

It came as a pleasant surprise 
that she did not consider me a su- 
perannuated gaffer, and it was her 
youth that allowed her to discuss 
parapsychic phemonena without 
the tongue-in-cheek attitude of the 
older know-it-alls. I considered 
Florence Wood and realized that 
she was at least old enough so that 
I wouldn't be jugged for cradle-rob- 
bing so long as I had a parental ac- 
ceptance. And I did want someone 
to talk out the business of psionics 
without having someone wind me 
in a sheet and ship me to a shrinker. 

And so I said, "If it will smooth 
things a bit, I'll umbrella you to 
the door- and make official explana- 
tion to the stern and anxious par- 

"That we'll enjoy," she giggled. 
"Daddy always says that he doesn't 
have to be a mind reader to ad- 
vise against what my boy friends 
have in mind. It'll be fun to face 
him with a — policeman." 

Darkly, I said, "Most folks don't 
look upon me as the fun-loving 
type. Policemen aren't always wel- 
come, you know." 

"Oh, Daddy will enjoy it. He 
writes a bit. He'll never be another 
Ellery Queen, but he will enjoy 
talking to a real live captain of 



At this point a lot of favorable 
things took place at once, such as 
the arrival of another convenient 
letup in the storm, the mad rush 
and the ringing of the doorbell, the 
opening of the door and some 
gasped introductions as we stood in 
a little hallway dripping puddles of 
rainwater on a small rug. 

"Police Captain-?* 

"Howard Schnell." 

"But Florence isn't-?" 

I laughed at Mrs. Wood. "Not at 
all. This is just the rescue of a very 
wet maiden in distress. When we're 
not shooting bank robbers, we also 
help little old ladies — and lovely 
young girls — across streets. All in 
the day's work, you know." 

Mrs. Wood hauled Florence off, 
saying something about hot show- 
ers and dry clothing, while Mr. 
Wood regarded me with interest 

TJTE beat all the way around the 
■*--*• bush, trying to ascertain with- 
out actually asking pointblank 
whether I could spend a few mo- 
ments, and, if so, would I like a 

One must not anticipate, so I 
waited until he'd made his meaning 
clear. Then I accepted his offer of 
some bourbon, refused his offer of 
a cigar and settled myself into the 
chair he waved at. 

I tasted the highball, smiled in 
approval, and opened the conver- 
sation by saying, "Your daughter 
tells me that you write, Mr. Wood." 

He smiled wistfully. "Well, I'm 
not at the stage where the mere an- 
nouncement that I am working on 
a novel causes an immediate pre- 
publication sale of seventy thou- 
sand copies. You see, I'm still try- 
ing to work out a good association 

"A what?" 

"An association gimmick. The 
name Erie Stanley Gardner, for in- 
stance, always means a story about 
Perry Mason and the inevitable 
courtroom scene full of legal fire- 
works. Rex Stout has his Nero 
Wolf, the fabulous detective who 
lets his secretary do all the work." 

"And," I added, "John Dickson 
Carr writes about Gideon Fell, who 
is an expert at solving sealed-room 

"Exactly!" he said. "I've a series 
of gimmicks all planned, but I real- 
ly need a strong, out-of-the-ordi- 
nary character to go along with 
them. You see, I propose to write 
a series of stories about 'perfect 
crimes.' " 

I'm not smart," I said. "I've al- 
ways assumed that the so-called 
'perfect crime' would be one in 
which the criminal walks off scot- 
free with the loot under one arm 
and the girl on the other." 

He said, "From your point of 
view, a true 'perfect crime' would 
be one in which no clue existed, in- 
cluding the fact of the crime itself 
— except those clues that were de- 
liberately planned by the perpetra- 




tor for some purpose of his own. 
That is your own angle, isn't it?" 
I nodded. Indeed it was, and it 
had been expressed in precisely the 
same words that I had used in 
speaking to Chief Weston. 

"However," he went on blandly, 
"you'll agree that a clue is usually 
the result of a mistake, or failure 
to plan completely, or the result of 
some accidental circumstance." 


"But in a 'perfect crime' there 
would be no error, no mistake." 

"Yes, but aren't you backing 
yourself into a hole that you've 
lined with fish hooks yourself?" 

"Not at all," he replied. "Clues cleverly contrived, created, 
and established in such a way that 
the episode is ultimately known to 
be crime and not labeled misadven- 
ture, suicide, or the like. Other- 
wise," he said with a genial smile, 
"we're writing about a 'perfectly 
justifiable homicide' instead of a 
'perfect crime.'" 

I nodded again. 

"And, of course," he finished, 
"these clues must also provide pre- 
cisely the correct amount of infor- 
mation so that the motive of the 
criminal is not only fulfilled, but 
exposed — if not to one of the char- 
acters in the book, at least to the 


R. Wood relaxed and sipped 
his own drink. From some- 
where aloft, a number of individ- 

ually insignificant traces added up 
to fairly reliable evidence that 
Florence and Mrs. Wood were 
about to return. I gathered that the 
cross-questioning had allayed any 
parental suspicion. 

I said, "One thing you haven't 
mentioned," and paused for effect. 
"To the Hindu, 'perfection' means 
the inclusion of an almost imper- 
ceptible flaw so that its maker can- 
not be accused of presuming to be 
as good as God. Is your 'perfect 
crime' to be perfect in the eyes of 
the criminal, or in the eyes of the 

He said, "Ah, Captain Schnell, 
that is indeed one of my bother- 
some problems." 

Mrs. Wood came into the room, 
followed by Florence. The girl had 
lost the soaked-gamin look. She was 
transformed by modern alchemy 
into a poised young woman who 
forced me to revise my estimated 
eighteen several years upward. She 
nodded affably at her father, 
smiled at me and then came over 
because she noticed that my high- 
ball glass was empty. 

I thanked her, and she smiled 
wide and bright as she asked, "Has 
Daddy been giving you the details 
of his impossible bandit?" 

"Well, in a way." 

Mr. Wood said, "I'm sort of like 
the standard television father — in- 
capable of adding two and two 
without the close supervision of the 
female members of my family." 



"I — that is, we — keep telling 
Daddy he should hire Superman 
for a hero." 

"You've changed," chyckled Mr. 


"Yesterday you advocated that I 
hire a detective with telepathy and 
a seflse of perception." 

"We discussed it on the way 
home," said Florence. 

"Superman?" I asked. 

"No, this extra-sensory business," 
said Florence 

Mr. Wood inquired, "Are you in- 
terested in parapsychology, Cap- 
tain Schnell?" 

' "I've been interested in the sub- 
ject for a good many years," I an- 

"Would the public accept it, I 
wonder," he mused. 

Mrs. Wood said, "A lot of peo- 
ple read psychic books." 

Mr. Wood said plaintively, "I 
don't want to write psychic books. 
I want to write whodunits. But it 
would solve my problem, wouldn't 
it? My series would consist of 
crimes that would be perfect, ex- 
cept for the introduction of a Mas- 
ter of Psionics who tells the story 
in the first person singular, and who 
solves the crime by parapsychic 



"It might read better if you made 
your extra-sensory character the 
criminal," I suggested. 

He shook his head. "Wouldn't do 
at all. A criminal with extra-sen- 

sory talent would always win out 
over the police. There have been 

only a very few successful stories 
written in which the criminal got 

"Maybe he wouldn't," I said. 

"But how could he possibly fail?" 

"He might get sloppy." 

"Sloppy! Mind reading every 
anticipated move?" 

"Or bored." 


"One often leads to the other," 
I told him with a smile. "Which is 
just my policeman's way of think- 
ing. From the policeman's point of 
view, you're overlooking one rather 
important angle." 

"Indeed? Well, you must tell me 
all about it" 

U/~\KAY," I said. "My point is 
^^ that you should not view 
this as a single incident in the life 
of an extra-sensory who has turned 
his talent to crime, but rather take 
the overall view. For instance, we 
can write the life history of our 
Psi-man in broad terms. As a 
schoolboy, he was considered ex- 
traordinarily lucky at games of 
chance and skilled in games of 
manual dexterity; he stood high in 
schoolwork and at the same time 
managed to do it without working 
very hard. By the time he enters 
high school, he realizes that his 
success is due to some sort of 'sens- 
ing' of when things will be right. 
This increases the efficiency of his 



talent and he surges forward and 
would have become top-of-class if 
he hadn't discovered that brilliance 
in recitation made up for a lack of 
handed-in homework. 

"In other words, nothing stands 
as a real challenge to him. His 
talents surmount the obstacles that 
confront his fellow man. He could 
collect corporations or be a labor 
leader, President or bum. Anything 
he wants can be gotten without 
much fuss. Our Psi-man is primari- 
ly interested in a statistical income 
sufficient to support him to the dic- 
tates of his ambition. The trick is 
to achieve, say, twenty grand per 
annum, in such a way that the 
manipulation is never discovered. 

"At first our Psi-man plans me- 
ticulously. But soon this process 
seems unnecessary because the 
poor ignorant homo saps don't even 
know they're being conned. He has 
no hard surface against which to 
whet his nervous edge, and so he 
begins to play games. He leaves 
clues, at first to ascertain the true 
level of his fellow man's intelli- 
gence and ability. Next he leaves 
conflicting clues to see which way 
the poor dopes will jump. In a 
world that scoffs at parapsychic 
phenomena, he leaves clues to sup- 
port the theory that only an extra- 
sensory criminal could have done 
the dastardly deed. Will one of the 
ignorant apes recognize the truth? 
If he does, will he be in a high posi- 
tion, or will he be one of the dili- 


gent ones who fetch coffee for the 
guy in the upper office? If the work 
of a Psi-man is recognized, how 
will our bright policeman go about 
it, and what will he do with the 
evidence after it's been shown to 

"And so, Mr. Wood, our Psi-man 
criminal has become bored because 
there is no one in the world to chal- 
lenge him, and he gets sloppy 
through his growing contempt for 
the antlike activities of his fellow 
creatures. At last he shows himself, 
deliberately taunting them to take 
action against him. And that," I 
concluded, with a nod at him, 
"might be the 'perfect crime' in 
which your extra-sensory criminal 
finally exposes himself." 

"But why," Mrs. Wood asked in 
perplexity, "would such a talented 
person turn to crime— or do you 
think that all extra-sensory peo- 

I turned to smile at her. "Mrs. 
Wood, I was not speaking of extra- 
sensory people as a statistical body. 
I was referring to one particular 

"I find him hard to believe in." 

"On the contrary, my dear," said 
Mr. Wood, "Captain Schnell has 
drawn an amazingly accurate 
thumbnail sketch of our Psi-man, 
and I daresay that he could go on 
and on, filling in more minute de- 

"Oh. yes, indeed," I said. "But I 
must leave it up to the professional 


writer to tell what the brilliant po- 
liceman does when he recognizes 
the work as that of an extra-sen- 
sory. For instance, does he become 
bold enough to mention it to Chief 
Weston, or to Commissioner 
Stone? Or will he confine his 
discussion to the company of a 
rain-soaked young woman so cir- 
cumstantially available and coinci- 
dentally willing to discuss Psionics?" 

"Captain Schnell," breathed 
Florence Wood, "what on Earth are 
you talking about?" 

"Your father," I said. 

Mr. Wood stepped into the 
breach. "Captain Schnell was 
dramatizing for your benefit, I'm 
sure. Because Captain Schnell 
knows very well how impossible it 
is to surprise a telepath into reveal- 
ing himself." 

Florence Wood's expression 
changed to a mildly bothered smile. 
"It certainly sounded as if he were 
accusing you of something." 

"You mean — like — mind read- 
ing?" he asked with a big belly 
laugh that closed the subject. 


Y most of the rules of society, 
both Mr. Wood and I were 
guilty of gross gentility. He greeted 
me overtly as the welcome guest 
and needled me with a show of 
patronizing tolerance as he implied 
that my basic interest was in Flor- 

To match him, I accepted his 
hospitality and made use of the 
proximity to spy on him and his 

There are ways and means of 
making a pretended deaf-mute re- 
veal himself — the human being 
does not live who will not leap half- 
way out of his skin at the shock of 
an unexpected revolver shot, no 
matter how well trained he is at 
feigning deafness. 

As for surprising a telepath, I 
knew it wouldn't work, but I had 
to try it anyway. I put both Mrs. 
Wood and Florence through a 
number of mental hurdles. To this, 
Mr. Wood took a quietly tolerant 
attitude. He understood and was 
prepared to accept as healthily nor- 
mal a certain amount of lust and 
carnal conjecture in the minds of 
males who were interested in his 
daughter. He forgave me for men- 
tally insulting his wife because he 
knew that my mental peregrina- 
tions were only aimed at determin- 
ing whether his wife was telepathic. 
Finally he came out flatly and told 
me to stop wasting my effort, be- 
cause neither Florence nor Mrs. 
Wood had a trace of extra-sensory 
power. Their lack of shocked or 
outraged response was not a case of 
the well-trained telepath divining 
my intention and planning a blank 

Furthermore, Mr. Wood as- 
serted that neither of them knew of 
his extra-sensory faculty, that he 



fully intended to keep it that way, 
and that I should know damned 
well that such stunts wouldn't work 
in the first place. 

And so I continued to enjoy a 
dinner now and then, and occasion- 
ally the company of Florence. 

Ultimately the lack of progress 
brought Chief Weston's nervous 
system to the blowup point. He 
called me in and I went, knowing 
that trouble cannot always be 
avoided, and when it can't, it's just 
plain sense to kick out the props 
and have done with it. 

He plowed right in: "And what 
in hell have you been doing?" 

"Chief, I've been-" 

"You put a make-team on some 
half-baked writer named Wood." 

"Edward Hazlett-" 

"Because," he yelled, "the first 
person you saw when you stuck 
your nose outside of Gordon An- 
drews' apartment was Florence 

"Well, Chief, you see-" 

"You perhaps suspected that 
she'd just walked through the wall 
of that apartment? And naturally 
you pulled out your hip-pocket 
crime laboratory and checked that 
umbrella tip for bloodstains before 
you threw it aside." 

"Well, you see—" 

"Schnell, would you have been 
so damned gallant if she'd been an 
ugly old hag in a ratty dress carry- 
ing a dead halibut wrapped in an 
old newspaper?" 

"But you see—" 

"So you leap into gallant action, 
and after you've rescued the fair 
maiden from her watery grave, you 
suddenly find it desirable to use a 
department automobile to deliver 
the damsel home." 



"Schnell, I'll bet that Wood girl 
wasn't any wetter than you were. 
And that's how you put the long 
arm of coincidence to work?" 

T was more than coincidence. 
Florence Wood had been in 
that soaking rain and whipping 
wind for more than an hour. Any 
housewife would have corroborated 
my statement that only a pro- 
longed soaking can achieve a truly 
wet-through-the-seams condition. 
Oh, Daddy Wood was just the guy 
to think of a stunt like saturating 

the seams and fibers of his daugh- 
ter's clothing by agitating the water 

supersonically at high amplitude, 
but, let's face it, that would have 
beaten hell out of her soft white 

As for the umbrella, the wound 
could indeed have been made by 
a rapierlike thrust. But a compari- 
son between the depth of the 
wound and the length of the tip 
showed that the bottom of the 
wound could not have been 
reached without forcing part of the 
umbrella itself into the victim's 
body. The face of the wound 
showed no such outsize penetra- 



tion, hence the umbrella was not 
the sought-for weapon. 

At this point, Chief Weston's 
telephone interrupted him and he 
snatched it up, bellowed his name, 
and then listened. Finally he 
snarled that it was for me and fair- 
ly hurled the handset at me. 

I caught it at the end of its cord 
and said: "Captain Schnell, Spe- 
cial Detail-" 

"Oh, I know it is you, Captain 
Schnell," said the suave voice of 
Edward Hazlett Wood. "I just 
wanted to tell you that your analy- 
sis of the umbrella's uselessness as 
evidence was quite brilliant. Also 
your logic in the matter of my 
daughter's rain-soaked clothing was 
clever. I really don't regret the 
chewing out you are getting. You 
deserve it. I was hoping to find you 
bright enough to avoid it. Anyway, 
can we expect you for dinner this 

"Yes," I snapped, and hung up, 
thinking a few things that would 
have called for a terse reprimand 
about foul and abusive language if 
telepathy were administered by 
the Federal Communications Com- 

"Wood?" snapped Chief Weston. 


"Date?" he snarled. 

I groaned. Wood did have the 
nasty telepath's ability to man- 
euver me into a situation that I 
could not conveniently avoid. 

"When they start calling the of- 

fice to pester you for dates — " 

"I know what I'm doing!" 

"So do I!" he yelled. "You're do- 
ing nothing!" 

"Listen, Chief, I'll admit the 
long arm of coincidence, but you'll 
have to admit that when there's 
trouble, I'm usually the first one to 
smell it." 

"So how do you connect them 

"Chief, I walk out of that apart- 
ment with your own words ringing 
in my ears. 'Looks like the classical 
setup for a "perfect crime,"' you 
said. And then I meet this girl who 
just happens to have a father who 
writes whodunits and is planning 
a series of books based upon the 
'perfect crime.' " 

"Maybe," sneered Chief Wes- 
ton, "the guy is a mind reader." 

I've given even that some con- 

"So I hear tell." 

"Any objections?" I asked. 

44 OBJECTIONS? I've got a lot 

^-^ of objections!" he howled. 

"This is a police department, not 

a soothsayers' convention! We're 

subject to enough criticism as it is. 

You needn't have added the act 

that makes us look like a bunch of 

damned fools." 

"But, Chief, I-" 

"So what do I hear tell?" He 

hauled the tray drawer of his desk 

open and pulled out one of the 

tabloids, opened to one of its hate- 




everything columnists. "Listen! 
'In recent years the legality of the 
famous witchcraft trials of the past 
has been subject to debate, with 
the result that these past convic- 
tions have now been declared "mis- 
carriages of justice." Posthumously, 
I must unhappily add. However, 
there has been little or no amend- 
ment to the laws against witch- 
craft, wizardry, charms, amulets 
and spells. 

U I 

But brace yourselves, citizens. 
One of our younger and more bril- 
liant captains of detectives has 
shown an interest recently in para- 
psychics and may be training to 
track down criminals by the appli- 
cation of extra-sensory detection. 
If this be true, the laws will have 
to be ruptured to permit him to 
secure evidence, since it is a tenet 
of the law that evidence must be 
secured through legal methods and 

" 'Fortune Tellers of the World, 
Arise! You have nothing to lose 
but your crystal balls!' " 

Chief Weston slapped the paper 
down. "What do you think of that?" 

I said, "He's just making noise. 
Telepathy has nothing in common 

"I wish I could stop you from 
even thinking about telepathy!" 

"If you could," I said calmly, 
"you'd have to be telepathic to 
determine when I had violated 
your dictum — and if you were tele- 
pathic, Chief, you'd have been on 

my side from the beginning." 

He merely glared at me. At this 
moment I should have been expect- 
ing the worst, and prepared to meet 
it But please remember that 
there's always that mental block 
against prying, especially when the 
United States mail is concerned. 
But now Edward Hazlett Wood 
was about to show me how a real 
extra-sensory sharpshooter clob- 
bers his enemies. 


WESTON'S secretary entered, 
carrying a package. 

I saw it, knew at once what it 
was, and groaned with despair. The 
only chance I saw of getting out of 
this was the forlorn hope that Wes- 
ton would believe the package was 
a dig, probably mailed by the snip- 
ing columnist. 

It was cleverly contrived. The 
addressee's name had been blurred 
and half-obliterated so that it 
couldn't have been quietly dropped 
on my desk where I could have dis- 
posed of its damning contents 
quietly. It had, of course, come spe- 
cial delivery, urgent, immediate 
handling. If I were a believer in 
amulets, witches and spells, I'd 
have been of the opinion that an 
aura of urgency had been created 
about the box. 

Chief Weston's secretary handed 
it to him with a mumbled sugges- 
tion that it seemed to be important, 
and perhaps it should be opened in 
hopes that the contents would con- 





vey information as to the identity 
of the owner. 
I said nothing. 

¥NSIDE the package was a fine 
-*- crystal ball, a set of tarot cards 
with a thick book of explanations, 
and a second deck of cards the like 
of which most people have heard 
but few have actually seen. These 
were the square, circle, wiggly line 
cards used in parapsychic research. 

There was the damning evidence 
of a packing slip with my name 
clearly printed on it, and a rubber 
stamp notation that the merchan- 
dise order had been accompanied 
by a prepaid postal note. 

The timing was perfect. The 
problem of keeping that package 
on schedule all the way from its 
point of origin to its devastating 
delivery must have taxed Wood's 
faculties, but he'd done it. 

Chief Weston's choler rose vis- 
ibly, and in a voice loud enough to 
be heard in Asbury Park, he yelled : 
"Schnell, did you - buy - this?" 

I was trapped. No matter what 
I said, it was calculated to get me 
into trouble. For in the petty cash 
box in the secretary's desk was a 
petty cash slip made out in the 
amount of thirty-nine dollars and 
seventeen cents for a postal money 
order payable to the Aladdin Nov- 
elty Company of Bayonne, New 
Jersey. The signature was good 
enough for me to accept it myself. 
All along the line it had been nice- 

ly legal — or would have been if 
I'd really signed that petty cash 

If it came to an argument, I'd 
have to perform miracles to prove 
my innocence. 

"Schnell," said Weston in a cold, 
level voice, "you'll get me a lead 
on the Gordon Andrews murder by 
tomorrow night or hand me your 

I fumed in silence because there 
was nothing to say. 

"Get out!" 

As I closed the door behind me, 
I heard the crash of the crystal ball 
hitting the wall. Luckily he hadn't 
hurled it at the glass panel in his 
office door. 

My own phone was ringing as I 
approached my desk. I picked it 
up wearily and said, "Very clever, 
Mr. Wood. Very damned clever." 

He said, "Your basic difficulty, 
Captain Schnell, is that you have 
sworn to uphold the law and are 
compelled to employ legal meth- 
ods. You must always work within 
the framework of the law. You 
would not think of tampering with 
the United States mails, even to 
save yourself from an unjust 

"Wood, if I make a single move 
outside of the law, you'll use it 
against me, won't you?" 

I'm afraid that's the way it has 
to be. You play according to your 
rules and I'll play according to 






"Well, now, Mr. Wood, in our 
philosophy there may be strength. 


Remember, upon the day that the 
forces of law and order must vio- 
late their own concepts in order to 
effect their own ends, on that day 
law and order ceases to be the goal 
of honest men." 

"Spoken like an idealist!*' 
Hanging up a telephone is not 
polite, but in this case hanging up 
did not snap the link of communi- 


AN angry man is a poor fighter. 
I sat shuffling papers on my 
desk, half of my intellect raging 
helplessly. Finally I forced myself 
to sit and read the papers on the 
desk, even though I knew every 
word on every one of them. 

One reported that Wood had 
been on« of the less conspicuous 
partners in a very successful per- 
sonnel-placement agency. I could 
have added a penciled note that a 
telepath should make a very suc- 
cessful personnel manager. 

Another said that Florence 
Wood was employed as a safety 
deposit vault clerk in the Third 
National Bank. This didn't bother 
me. What the standard human gets 
cut of staring at a solid phalanx of 
safety deposit boxes is a headache, 
not perceptive-gained information. 

There was a medical report that 
Wood had undergone a mild coro- 


nary occlusion some months ago 
which had hastened his retirement 
I wondered whether his retirement 
had been hastened by a real coro- 
nary occlusion or whether he'd used 
his extra-sensory power to fake the 
symptoms and control the doctor's 

Among the papers was a com- 
plete dissertation on the stab- 
wound in Gordon Andrews' chest. 
There was no trace of any foreign 
body; the wound did not go all the 
way through the chest cavity. It 
was not clean cut, as if made by a 
sharpened weapon, but more like 
the semi-rounded end of an um- 
brella or a blunt, heavy spike. In 
the opinion of the medical exam- 
iner, the wound had been made 
with a rapid thrust, but it looked as 
if there had been no withdrawal. 
An inspection of the wound for 
traces of excess water (icicles) or 
carbon dioxide (dry ice) had failed 
to disclose any plausible weapon or 
projectile that could have evapor- 
ated or sublimed out of existence. 

I longed to suggest that a test 
be made for air. If a kinematic can 
create pyrotic effects by agitation 
of the molecules in something to 
be ignited, a good kinematic could 
make Maxwell's Demon go to work 
for him. Like compressing a vol- 
ume of air into a .38 slug and pro- 
jecting it at revolver velocity. 

And in the end I was not leafing 
the reports or reading them. I was 
really staring at the wall. Specific- 


ally, I was staring at the calendar 
without paying much attention to 
it, and as I came out of my reverie 
I realized that I'd been absorbed in 
a little red smudge on one of the 

Association is a funny process. 
The combination of calendar and 
red blob stared at hazily had final- 
ly brought my mind around to 
thinking of February the four- 
teenth, which honors a patron saint 
who has absolutely nothing to do 
with Jimmy Valentine, who was 
reputed to have been a very fast 
man with the combination of a safe, 
especially the type of safe that Gor- 
don Andrews kept his money in 
because he did not trust banks, 
which may have been a good idea 
considering that Florence Wood 
worked in a bank vault, and her 
father ... 

I jumped out of my office chair 
just as it tilted over backward. If 
I hadn't jumped, I'd have split my 
skull on the radiator under the win- 
dow behind me. 

A heavy brass-edged ruler came 
up from the desk and swung in a 
whistling saber swipe at my face. 
I ducked in time to let the cut 
pass over my head; it clipped a few 
upstanding hairs. When it reached 
the end of its stroke, I wrested it 
out of Wood's control just to prove 
that an alert local force could exert 
more power than a distant kine- 
matic force. Naturally I could. Lev- 
erage, of course. 

"VTEXT came a metal-to-metal 
•*■ ^ clicking sound; it was the po- 
lice positive in the upper left-hand 
corner of my desk. I thought 
strongly, "Psi-man, you lift that gun 
and fire it at me through the desk 
drawer, and the angle and every- 
thing will be enough evidence to 
change Weston's opinion from 
angry rejection of all Psionics to 
a cold, calculated, vengeful agree- 
ment with everything I've sug- 

The clicking stopped coming 
from the desk drawer and resumed 
in smaller kind from the little desk 
lock in the tray drawer of the desk. 

These desk locks can be picked 
with a bent hairpin, but picking 
takes time. Everything takes time. 
At any rate, it did indeed take 
Edward Hazlett Wood a finite time 
to juggle the little brass tumblers, 
turn the main cylinder, retract the 
sliding bolt, withdraw the desk 
tray to unlatch the side drawers, 
pull open the upper left-hand 
drawer and extract my police posi- 
tive from its holster with its me- 
chanism entering the firing cycle — 
which itself takes rime. 

By which time I'd vacated my 
office and was starting across the 
outer office floor in the brisk, stiff- 
legged walk of a man in a hurry to 
go a long way fast. 

Wood was stalled. I thought: 
"Make like a poltergeist, Psi-man 
—and convince everybody that you 



The outer office was a bustle of limits before the so-called brute- 

force mechanism will deign to turn 
a gear. But again, and luckily, mak- 
ing adjustments and maladjust- 
ments takes time. And by the logi- 
cal rules of classical mechanics, the 
simple maladjusting turn of a 
screw valve takes no longer to re- 
turn to adjustment provided the 
restorer is as bright and as quick 
as the wrecker. 

We worked our way through it 
like a pair of fencers or ju jitsu pro- 
fessionals going through the for- 
mal ritual of opening their engage- 

He fastened on the starting sys- 
tem, but I licked him cold on that 
one because the ignition key con- 
trols the starter relay switch and I 
could handle both with one hand. 

He tried to block the starting 
relay, but the armature had started 
before he arrived with his kine- 
matic barrier and the solid me- 
chanico-electrical power carried 
the armature home. 

He made a futile attempt to 
flummox up the laws of Mr. Ohm, 
but he did not have the power to 
prevent amperes from flowing from 
the battery into the starting motor. 
By the time he thought of gum- 
ming up the bendix, the gear had 
meshed against the flywheel and 
the engine was turning over. 

He tried to flood the engine, but 
I held the choke valve just as I 
wanted it. He fiddled with the 
justed within ridiculously narrow breaker-points and I blocked that 

the usual police activity. But Wood 
did not have the ability to invade 
another mind and take over. At 
least, no one of the men in the of- 
fice suddenly had a fit of homicidal 
mania with Captain Schnell listed 
as the first victim. 

And so I made Weston's office 
and shoved my head in through the 
outer door and yelled: "Weston — 
Third National Bank — and make 
it fast!" 

I turned and headed outside as 


Weston started the usual top-brass 
routine of wanting to know all of 
the infinitely variable reasons why 
he should leave his office at all, let 
alone right now. With no one to 
fire delaying questions at, and with 
a growing realization that he was 
not going to learn a thing by sitting 
there in fulmination, he followed. 

I paid no more attention to him 
once I knew he was on his way. 

I had my own hands full. 

r* ONSIDERING the general re- 
^^ liability of the average inter- 
nal combustion engine in the face 
of neglect, abuse and the natural 
ravages of weather, the automobile 
engine is a brute-force mechanism 
completely unable to support a 
psychosis. I was, however, appalled 
to discover just how many little 
thumb-valves, levers, wires, doo- 
dads, cams, gizmos and kadodies 
there are, each of which must be ad- 



until one of the cylinders fired. 
That kicked the whole engine into 
life and made the engine far too 
rapid to control, moving member 
by moving member. This caused 
his attention to turn to the needle 
valves, but as fast as he turned 
them out, I turned them back in 
again. He hit the choke again and 

I parried his thrust. 

The engine kicked over, caught, 
spluttered and backfired, and then 
went into an erratic running that 
smoothed out slightly as it warmed. 
I wasted no time; I kicked her into 
gear and took off in a jack-rabbit 
start with my siren wailing. 

Exultantly, I thought : "Can you 
hit a moving target, Psi-man?" 

Yes, you can stop an internal 
combustion engine turning at three 
thousand revolutions per minute 
by yanking off the ignition system. 
But not when your opponent is do- 
ing everything in his power to pre- 
vent you, and not when both of 
you are traveling at sixty or more 
miles per hour and you have a 
rougher driving course than he. 

\M Y own siren was clearing my 
-*-*-*• way, driving motorists to the 
shelter of the side streets and park- 
ing places, and causing my fellow 
policemen to take charge blocks 
ahead to clear the path for the ve- 
hicle that had the right to exceed 
the city speed limit. My worthy 
opponent drove at sixty miles per 
hour at his own risk, trying to race run until he was clear enough to 

me to the Third National Bank. 

Wood's extra-sensory driving 
was no better than mine. The traf- 
fic pattern was clear to both of us. 
But who should know better than 
a policeman what the average mo- 
torist will do in the face of an 

He took the time now and then 
to hurl something at me, but this 
was not very effective. If you think 
not, figure how many things you 
can see and use as weapons while 
driving at sixty. 

And, too, he was also fighting the 
unfavorable end of a missile-prob- 
lem called "terminal control," 
which simply states that any 
guided missile approaching its tar- 
get is subject to greater and greater 
interference by the enemy as it gets 
closer. Wood's near-misses I 
ignored with a disdain calculated 
to make him furious, and his near- 
hits I blocked with an ease that 
proved my ability to outguess and 
outmaneuver him. 

I chuckled to myself, for Edward 
Hazlett Wood had been played off- 
balance. He'd committed the hys- 
terical mistake of fighting me on 
my ground instead of his. He had 
thrust and I'd parried and ad- 
vanced, forcing him to thrust again 
before he could recover. He'd been 
fighting in the very odd position of 
conducting a vigorous offensive 
while back-stepping in inexorable 
retreat. He should have run and 



prepare a single telling blow. 

And so ultimately I came to the 
front of the Third National Bank 
in a screeching halt. I stepped un- 
der a falling cornice, neatly avoided 
a revolving door that tried to slice 
me, and side-stepped the bronze 
bust of Salmon P. Chase that top- 
pled from its niche of honor above 
the door. I evaded the erratic roll- 
ing of a pencil, and I trod with un- 
erring step on a circular patch of 
invisible stuff that was as slippery 
as the proverbial frictionless lubri- 
cant. The slick flowed forward and 
down over the stairs as I hurried 
below; I held myself erect above 
it by sheer will power. 

As I strode toward the safe-de- 
posit vault, I thought exultantly: 
"You're outpointed, Psi-man!" 


T? LORENCE Wood looked up 
•*- from her little desk and cried, 
"Why, Captain Schnell! How nice 
to see you!" 

"Hello," I said with a smile. "I 
hope you won't mind my company 
for a while." 

'Tin not likely to go for a stroll 
in-Captain Schnell! Don't-" 

Seven and one-half tons of fine- 
ly wrought and polished tool-steel 
alloy swung on delicately balanced 
hinges, coming to rest with the 
metal-to-metal sound of machined 
surfaces sliding into a perfect fit 
with its precision-matched recep- 

tacle. Its piston-fit made a pressure 
on our eardrums. Then the auto- 
matic switches took over and 
motors whirred in solid muffled 


harmony as the massive bars slid 
out of their nests into the polished 

The ponderous operation that 
sealed the two of us off from the 
outside world behind a barrier of 
drill-proof and burglar-proof and 
blast-proof solidity conclude^f^not 
with the mechanical fanfare it de- 
served, but with a gentle little 
click that was as final as the Word 
of God. . 

"—do that!" gasped Florence 
Wood, weakly finishing her ad- 

She stared at me. 

The knowledge that this bank 
vault door was equipped with a 
time-lock that would not permit it 
to be opened except in the interval 
between nine-fifteen and nine-thir- 
ty in the morning of any working 
weekday ceased to be mere infor- 
mation and became vitally impor- 
tant to Florence Wood. 

So did the secondary knowledge 
that the bank vault was also con- 
trived in available volume to limit 
the breathable air. There was not 
enough to support' the average hu- 
man adult overnight until opening 
time tomorrow morning. Now there 
were two of them entombed in it 
— and she was one of them! 

"We'll die!" she screamed. 

"Trust me, Florence?" 



She looked dubious. She was not 
at all willing to regard anyone as 
competent who was so foolish as 
to lock himself into a bank vault — 
and her with him. 

Florence was still struggling 
through her sea of mixed thoughts 
when the telephone rang. It was 
Chief Weston and he bellowed al- 

most loud enough to hear through 
the yards of concrete and steel that 
separated us. 

"Schnell — what in the bloody 
hell have you done?" 

"IVe shut the vault," I said. 

"You'll die!" 

"I doubt it." 

"How do you propose to get 



out?" he demanded with heavy 

"Just ask Edward Hazlett Wood 
— the Psi-man in our midst" 

"Schnell, if you get out of there 
alive, I'm going to ask for your re- 

"If I get out of here alive, you'll 
need every faculty I have to keep 


our Psi-man jugged for good." 
"You and your extra-sensory—" 
"Chief, get it through your thick 

skull that I am so convinced I'm 

right that I am betting my life on 


"And can you tell me why he is 

going to give himself away to 

rescue you?" 



"Because I have his daughter 
right here beside me." 


"Stop yacking, Chief. Call me 
when Wood arrives. I have an emo- 
tional problem on my hands down 

"How do you know Wood's com- 

"He's been following my every 
move by telepathy," I said. "And 
he's been trying to block me all the 
way. Oh, he knows all right." 

HP HEN I hung up to stop a lot 
•■• of senseless gab. I turned to 
Florence, who was just beginning 
to understand what I had said and 
what it meant to both her and her 
father. She stood there with 
shocked eyes regarding me, and 
with one hand pressed back against 
her teeth. She said, "I don't believe 
it," in a barely audible voice. 

"It's true, and I'm sorry it's true," 
I told her. 

"It can't be true." 

"That's what you'd like to be- 
lieve," I said softly. "But the fact 

remains that your father is a killer." 

"I'd rather die." 

"Florence, the choice between 
death and dishonor is not yours to 
make. Whether you live or die is 
up to your father, who is guilty of 
placing you in this awkward posi- 
tion by turning his talents to evil." 

She stared at me. "But — how 
could you — ?" 

"There was no other way but to 

bait this trap emotionally." 

"So cold and cruel—" 

I nodded. "So were the pioneers 
who saved one last bullet for their 

How could I tell this hurt girl 
that I had looked time and again 
into the minds of killers and found 
them far worse than the deeds they 
committed? When the official rec- 
ord states that upon such and such 
a date, so and so was punished for 
his crime, how is he punished for 
the harm he did to those who 
placed their trust in him? I hate 
them because they force me to re- 
veal them for what they are, mak- 
ing me an agent of their betrayal. 

The phone rang again. "Yeah, 

"Schnell, Wood's just arrived. 
What shall I tell him?" 

"Don't bother. He knows it all." 
"Schnell, granting that you are 
right, why should he show his hand 
when he knows — or could easily 
find out — that the time-lock set- 
ting mechanism is on your side of 
that vault door?" 

"Sure it is," I replied. "But it's 
covered by a sheet of five-ply safe- 
ty glass." 

"Use your revolver!" 
• "Chief, reprimand me for a vio- 
lation of regulations if you must, 
but let me point out that only an 
idiot would wear a gun when he's 
pitting himself against a Psi-man." 

"Got everything figured out, 

haven't you, Schnell?" 



"Chief," I said, "this affair started 
in a sealed room, and now ir*s go- 
ing to end in one." 

I yanked on the telephone and 
pulled it out of its connection block, 
snapping that link of communica- 
tion. Then, to satisfy Edward Haz- 
lett Wood, I hurled the instrument 
as hard as I could against the safe- 
ty glass. The telephone bounced as 
if I had thrown it against six solid 
feet of battleship plate armor. 

T THOUGHT: "Psi-man, you 

■■• are trapped!" 

He thought: "I've killed before, 
Schnell. Why shouldn't I profess 

helplessness and innocence, and 
accuse you and the whole Police 
Department of the stupid and wan- 
ton death of my beloved daugh- 

"Because you've erred, Psi-man 

"Ah, now I have proof! You're a 
Psi-man, too! 

"Who - me?" I thought without 
a visible change in my expression 
for Florence Wood to see. "You're 
the one who erred, Wood. You 
neglected the rules." 

"Bah - the law! Stupid law- 

"Not so stupid, Wood. The law 
is really very sensible. Ifs strong, 
Wood, and it fosters the strength 
that comes of following it. So you 
see, Psi-man Wood, by never, never 
making any overt use of my talent, 
by never admitting that I know 
more than any clever man can see 


and deduce from what he knows — 
it has now become quite obvious to 
Chief Weston that if any such she- 
nanigans as extra-sensory manipu- 
lation of this bank-vault door take 
place — you're the only one sus- 
pected of parapsychic power!" 

And then the time-lock setting 
dials clicked around, their tiny 
noise muted by the glass door. 
They came around until they 
pointed to the present time. Then 
came the louder manipulation of 
outside dial lock, the heavy click of 
massive tumblers, and then the 
solid turning sound of wheel and 
mighty lever. The vault door 
swung open. 

Outside, a pale and speechless 
man faced me, looking at his daugh- 
ter. Weston was shaking his head, 
but the confusion was clearing. 
Weston was a good man, quite will- 
ing to operate without a full ex- 
planation, so long as there was a 
reasonable probability that some 
reasonable explanation would come 
later. The president and four vice- 
presidents of the bank stared at 
their vault door in dismay, wonder- 
ing how anyone could from now on 
rely on any protection if the best of 
the vault-maker's art could be 
opened" with such ease. 

And Florence. She started for- 
ward with a glad cry, but stopped 
in mid-stride as she realized the 
full truth. In those fractions of a 
second, she became the full, mature 
adult who had been hurt, and who 



knew that hurt and pain are not 
the end. 

She stopped a full yard from him 
and whispered, "Daddy — you did 

- it!" 

He looked at her out of frantic 

eyes. "I didn't! I didn't!" 

Chief Weston took a pair of 

handcuffs from one of the uni- 
formed cops and held them up in 
front of Edward Hazlett Wood's 
eyes. "Coming quietly, Wood, or 
must I weld them on you?" 

C TUNNED, knowing that any 
^ move he made I would block, 
the murderer turned to go. 

I was going to have quite an in- 
teresting intellectual problem to 
solve. I was going to have to testi- 
fy that I was clever enough to trap 
an extra-sensory criminal without 
displaying my own extra-sensory 
talent. It wasn't just a matter of 

putting a possible ending to my of- 
ficial usefulness to the forces of 
law and order if the facts became 
known. One word of suspicion 
against Captain Howard Schnell 
and some clever defense attorney 
would raise a wholly reasonable 
doubt as to which Psi-man opened 
that vault door. 

And being sworn to uphold the 
law, and enforce the law within the 
framework of the law itself, I'd 
have to tell the truth, the whole 
truth and nothing but the truth, so 
help me God! 

But, according to the same sen- 
sible law, not unless I was specifi- 
cally asked. 

And to answer Edward Hazlett 
Wood's question: The perfect an- 
swer to the perfect crime com- 
mitted by the perfect criminal is 
a perfect retribution. 



Man has sought the state of "CLEAR" 

This state is now attainable for the first time in Man's History. 
The goal of all Mystic and Occult Science has been attained. 
It can be done for you. 

Write H A S I 

1812 19th Street, N.W. 

Washington 9, D.C 




Illustrated by WOOD 

Let the aliens get away with one 
thing — and they'd get away with 
everything — including the Earth! 

N his office at the Terran Im- 

port Bureau of Standards, the 
tall man gathered uo the 

I tall man gathered up 
morning's memos from their wire 
basket, and, seating himself at his 
desk, arranged them for reading. 
He put on his iris lenses, lit a ciga- 

"Good morning," the first memo 
said in its tinny, chattery voice, as 
Wiseman ran his thumb along the 
line of pasted tape. Staring off 
through the open window at the 
parking lot, he listened to it idly. 
"Say look, whafs wrong with you 
people down there? We sent that 



lot of— " a pause as the speaker, the 
sales manager of a chain of New 
York department stores, found his 
records — "those Ganymedean toys. 
You realize we have to get them 
approved in time for the autumn 
buying plan, so we can get them 
stocked for Christmas." Grumbling, 
the sales manager concluded, "War 
games are going to be an important 
item again this year. We intend to 
buy big." 

Wiseman ran his thumb down 
to the speaker's name and title. 

"Joe Hauck," the memo-voice 
chattered. "Appeley's Children's." 

To himself, Wiseman said, "Ah." 
He put down the memo, got a blank 
and prepared to reply. And then he 
said, half-aloud, "Yes, what about 
that lot of Ganymedean toys?" 

It seemed like a long time that 
the testing labs had been on them. 
At least two weeks. 

Of course, any Ganymedean 
products got special attention these 
days; the Moons had, during the 
last year, gotten beyond their usual 
state of economic greed and had 
begun — according to intelligence 
circles — mulling overt military ac- 
tion against competitive interests, 
of which the Inner Three planets 
could be called the foremost ele- 
ment. But so far nothing had shown 
up. Exports remained of adequate 
quality, with no special jokers, no 
toxic paint to be licked off, no cap- 
sules of bacteria. 

And yet . . . 



Any group of people as inventive 
as the Ganymedeans could be ex- 
pected to show creativity in what- 
ever field they entered. Subversion 
would be tackled like any other 
venture — with imagination and a 
flair for wit. 

Wiseman got to his feet and left 
his office, in the direction of the 
separate building in which the test- 
ing labs operated. 

QURROUNDED by half-disas- 
^ sembled consumers' products, 
Pinario looked up to see his boss, 
Leon Wiseman, shutting the final 
door of the lab. 

"I'm glad you came down," Pin- 
ario said, although actually he was 
stalling; he knew that he was at 
least five days behind in his work, 
and this session was going to mean 
trouble. "Better put on a prophy- 
laxis suit— don't want to take risks." 
He spoke pleasantly, but Wise- 
man's expression remained dour. 

"I'm here about those inner-cita- 
del-storming shock troops at six 
dollars a set," Wiseman said, stroll- 
ing among the stacks of many-sized 
unopened products waiting to be 
tested and released. 

"Oh, that set of Ganymedean toy 
soldiers," Pinario said with relief. 
His conscience was clear on that 
item; every tester in the labs knew 
the special instructions handed 
down by the Cheyenne Govern- 
ment on the Dangers of Contami- 
nation from Culture Particles Hos- 


tile to Innocent Urban Populations, 
a typically muddy ukase from offi- 
cialdom. He could always — legiti- 
mately — fall back and cite the 
number of that directive. "I've got 
them off by themselves," he said, 
walking over to accompany Wise- 
man, "due to the special danger in- 

"Let's have a look," Wiseman 
said. "Do you believe there's any- 
thing in this caution, or is it more 
paranoia about 'alien milieux'?" 

Pinario said, "It's justified, es- 
pecially where children's artifacts 
are concerned." 

A few hand-signals, and a slab 
of wall exposed a side room. 

Propped up in the center was a 
sight that caused Wiseman to halt. 
A plastic life-size dummy of a child, 
perhaps five years in appearance, 
wearing ordinary clothes, sat sur- 
rounded by toys. At this moment, 
the dummy was saying, "I'm tired 
of that. Do something else." It 
paused a short time, and then re- 
peated, "I'm tired of that. Do some- 
thing else." 

The toys on the floor, triggered 
to respond to oral instructions, gave 
up their various occupations and 
started afresh. 

"It saves on labor costs," Pinario 
explained. "This is a crop of junk 
that's got an entire repertoire to 
go through, before the buyer has 
his money's worth. If we stuck 
around to keep them active, we'd 
be in here all the time." 

Directly before the dummy was 
the group of Ganymedean soldiers, 
plus the citadel which they had 
been built to storm. They had been 
sneaking up on it in an elaborate 
pattern, but, at the dummy's ut- 
terance, they had halted. Now they 
were regrouping. 

"You're getting this all on tape?" 
Wiseman asked. 

, "Oh, yes," Pinario said. 

The model soldiers stood ap- 
proximately six inches high, made 
from the almost indestructible 
thermoplastic compounds that the 
Ganymedean manufacturers were 
famous for. Their uniforms were 
synthetic, a hodgepodge of various 
military costumes from the Moons 
and nearby planets. The citadel 
itself, a block of ominous dark 
metallike stuff, resembled a legend- 
ary fort; peep-holes dotted its up- 
per surfaces, a drawbridge had been 
drawn up out of sight, and from the 
top turret a gaudy flag waved. 

With a whistling pop, the citadel 
fired a projectile at its attackers. 
The projectile exploded in a cloud 
of harmless smoke and noise, 
among a cluster of soldiers. 

"It fights back," Wiseman ob- 

"But ultimately it loses," Pinario 
said. "It has to. Psychologically 
speaking, it symbolizes the external 
reality. The dozen soldiers, of 
course, represent to the child his 
own efforts to cope. By participat- 
ing in the storming of the citadel, 



the child undergoes a sense of ade- 
quacy in dealing with the harsh 
world. Eventually he prevails, but 
only after a painstaking period of 
effort and patience." He added, 
"Anyhow, that's what the instruc- 
tion booklet says." He handed 
Wiseman the booklet. 

GLANCING over the booklet, 
Wiseman asked, "And their 
pattern of assault varies each 

"We've had it running for eight 
days now. The same pattern hasn't 
cropped up twice. Well, you've got 
quite a few units involved." 

The soldiers were sneaking 
around, gradually nearing the cita- 
del. On the walls, a number of mon- 
itoring devices appeared and began 
tracking the soldiers. Utilizing 
other toys being tested, the soldiers 
concealed themselves. 

"They can incorporate acciden- 
tal configurations of terrain," Pi- 
nario explained. "They're object- 
tropic; when they see, for example, 
a dollhouse here for testing, they 
climb into it like mice. They'll be 
all through it" To prove his point, 
he picked up a large toy spaceship 
manufactured by a Uranian com- 
pany; shaking it, he spilled two sol- 
diers from it. 

"How many times do they take 
the citadel," Wiseman asked, "on 
a percentage basis?" 

"So far, they've been successful 
one out of nine tries. There's an ad- 


justment in the back of the citadel. 
You can set it for a higher yield of 
successful tries." 

He threaded a path through the 
advancing soldiers; Wiseman ac- 
companied him, and they bent 
down to inspect the citadel. 

"This is actually the power sup- 
ply," Pinario said. "Cunning. Also, 
the instructions to the soldiers ema- 
nate from it. High-frequency trans- 
mission, from a shot-box." 

Opening the back of the citadel, 
he showed his boss the container 
of shot. Each shot was an instruc- 
tion iota. For an assault pattern, 
the shot were tossed up, vibrated, 
allowed to settle in a new se- 
quence. Randomness was thereby 
achieved. But since there was a 
finite number of shot, there had to 
be a finite number of patterns. 

"We're trying them all," Pinario 


"And there's no way to speed it 

"It'll just have to take time. It 
may run through a thousand pat- 
terns and then—" 

"The next one," Wiseman fin- 
ished, "may have them make a 
ninety-degree turn and start firing 
at the nearest human being." 

Pinario said somberly, "Or 
worse. There're a good deal of ergs 
in that power pack. If s made to 
put out for five years. But if it all 
went into something simultaneous- 


"Keep testing," Wiseman said. 



They looked at each other and 
then at the citadel. The soldiers 
had by now almost reached it. Sud- 
denly one wall of the citadel 
flapped down; a gun-muzzle ap- 
peared, and the soldiers had been 
flattened. x 

"I never saw that before," Pi- 
nario murmured. 

For a moment, nothing stirred. 
And then the lab's child-dummy, 
seated among its toys, said, "I'm 
tired of that. Do something else." 

With a tremor of uneasiness, the 
two men watched the soldiers pick 
themselves up and regroup. 

HTWO days later, Wiseman's su- 
•*■ perior, a heavy-set, short, an- 
gry man with popping eyes, ap- 
peared in his office. "Listen," Fow- 
ler said, "you get those damn toys 
out of testing. I'll give you until to- 
morrow." He started back out, but 
Wiseman stopped him. 

"This is too serious," he said. 
"Come down to the lab and I'll 
show you." 

Arguing all the way, Fowler ac- 
companied him to the lab. "You 
have no concept of the capital 
some of these firms have invested 
in this stuff!" he was saying as they 
entered. "For every product you've 
got represented here, there's a ship 
or a warehouse full on Luna, wait- 
ing for official clearance so it can 
come in!" 

Pinario was nowhere in sight. So 
Wiseman used his key, bypassing 

the hand-signals that opened up 
the testing room. 

There, surrounded by toys, sat 
the dummy that the lab men had 
built. Around it the numerous toys 
went through their cycles. The 
racket made Fowler wince. 

"This is the item in particular," 
Wiseman said, bending down by 
the citadel. A soldier was in the 
process of squirming on his belly 
toward it. "As you can see, there 
are a dozen soldiers. Given that 
many, and the energy available to 
them, plus the complex instruction 

Fowler interrupted, "I see only 

"One's probably hiding," Wise- 
man said. 

From behind them, a voice said, 
"No, he's right." Pinario, a rigid ex- 
pression on his face, appeared. 
"I've been having a search made. 
One is gone." 

The three men were silent. 

"Maybe the citadel destroyed 
him," Wiseman finally suggested. 

Pinario said, "There's a law of 
matter dealing with that. If it 'de- 
stroyed' him — what did it do with 
the remains?" 

"Possibly converted him into en- 
ergy," Fowler said, examining the 
citadel and the remaining soldiers. 

"We did something ingenious," 
Pinario said, "when we realized 
that a soldier was gone. We 
weighed the remaining eleven plus 

the citadel. Their combined weight 



is exactly equal to that of the origi- 
nal set — the original dozen sol- 
diers and the citadel. So he's in 
there somewhere." He pointed at 
the citadel, which at the moment, 
was pinpointing the soldiers ad- 
vancing toward it. 

Studying the citadel, Wiseman 
had a deep intuitive feeling. It had 
changed. It was, in some manner, 

"Run your tapes," Wiseman said. 

"What?" asked Pinario, and then 
he flushed. "Of course." Going to 
the child-dummy, he shut it off, 
opened it, and removed the drum of 
video recording tape. Shakily, he 
carried it to the projector. 

They sat watching the recording 
sequences flash by : one assault aft- 
er another, until the three of them 
were bleary-eyed. The soldiers ad- 
vanced, retreated, were fired on, 
picked themselves up, advanced 
again . . . 

"Stop the transport," Wiseman 
said suddenly. 

The last sequence was re-run. 

A soldier moved steadily toward 
the base of the citadel. A missile, 
fired at him, exploded and for a 
time obscured him. Meanwhile, the 
other eleven soldiers scurried in a 
wild attempt to mount the walls. 
The soldier emerged from the 
cloud of dust and continued. He 
reached the wall. A section slid 

The soldier, blending with the 
dingy wall of the citadel, used the 

end of his rifle as a screwdriver to 
remove his head, then one arm, 
then both legs. The disassembled 
pieces were passed into the aper- 
ture of the citadel. When only the 
arm and rifle remained, that, too, 
crawled into the citadel, worming 
blindly, and vanished. The aper- 
ture slid out of existence. 

After a long time, Fowler said in 
a hoarse voice, "The presumption 
by the parent would be that the 
child had lost or destroyed one of 
the soldiers. Gradually the set 
would dwindle — with the child get- 
ting the blame." 

Pinario said, "What do you 

"Keep it in action," Fowler said, 
with a nod from Wiseman. "Let it 
work out its cycle. But don't leave 
it alone." 

"I'll have somebody in the room 
with it from now on," Pinario 

"Better yet, stay with it your- 
self," Fowler said. 

To himself, Wiseman thought: 
Maybe we all better stay with it. 
At least two of us, Pinario and my- 

I wonder what it did with the 
pieces, he thought. 
What did it make? 

T> Y the end of the week, the cita- 
-*-* del had absorbed four more 
of the soldiers. 

Watching it through a monitor, 
Wiseman could see in it no visible 





change. Naturally. The growth 
would be strictly internal, down 
out of sight 

On and on the eternal assaults, 
the soldiers wriggling up, the cita- 
del firing in defense. Meanwhile, he 
had before him a new series of 
Ganymedean products. More 
recent children's toys to be in- 

"Now what?" he asked himself. 

The first was an apparently sim- 
ple item: a cowboy costume from 
the ancient American West. At 
least, so it was described. But he 
paid only cursory attention to the 
brochure: the hell with what the 
Ganymedeans had to say about it. 

Opening the box, he laid out the 
costume. The fabric had a gray, 
amorphous quality. What a miser- 
ably bad job, he thought. It only 
vaguely resembled a cowboy suit; 
the lines seemed unformed, hesi- 
tant. And the material stretched 
out of shape as he handled it. He 
found that he had pulled an entire 
section of it into a pocket that hung 

"I don't get it," he said to Pi- 
nario. "This won't sell." 

"Put it on," Pinario said. "You'll 

With effort, Wiseman managed 
to squeeze himself into the suit. "Is 
it safe?" he asked. 

"Yes," Pinario said. "I had it on 
earlier. This is a more benign idea. 
But it could be effective. To start 

it into action, you fantasize." 

"Along what lines?" 

"Any lines." 

The, suit made Wiseman think 
of cowboys, and so he imagined to 
himself that he was back at the 
ranch, trudging along the gravel 
road by the field in which black- 
faced sheep munched hay with that 
odd, rapid grinding motion of their 
lower jaws. He had stopped at the 
fence — barbed wire and occasional 
upright posts — and watched the 
sheep. Then, without warning, the 
sheep lined up and headed off, in 
the direction of a shaded hillside 
beyond his range of vision. 

TTE saw trees, Cyprus growing 
-"--*- against the skyline. A chicken 
hawk, far up, flapped its wings in 
a pumping action ... as if, he 
thought, it's filling itself with more 
air, to rise higher. The hawk glided 
energetically off, then sailed at a 
leisurely pace. Wiseman looked for 
a sign of its prey. Nothing but the 
dry mid-summer fields munched 
flat by the sheep. Frequent grass- 
hoppers. And, on the road itself, a 
toad. The toad had burrowed into 
the loose dirt; only its top part was 

As he bent down, trying to get up 
enough courage to touch the warty 
top of the toad's head, a man's voice 
said nearby him, "How do you like 

"Fine," Wiseman said. He took a 
deep breath of the dry grass smell; 
he filled his lungs. "Hey, how do 




you tell a female toad from a male 
toad? By the spots, or what?" 

"Why?" asked the man, stand- 
ing behind him slightly out of sight. 
I've got a toad here." 

"Just for the record," the man 
said, "can I ask you a couple of 

"Sure," Wiseman said. 

"How old are you?" 

That was easy. "Ten years and 
four months," he said, with pride. 

"Where exactly are you, at this 

"Out in the country, Mr. Gay- 
lord's ranch, where my dad takes 
me and my mother every week- 
end when we can." 

"Turn around and look at me," 
the man said. "And tell me if you 
know me." 

With reluctance, he turned from 
the half-buried toad to look. He saw 
an adult with a thin face and a long, 

somewhat irregular nose. "You're 
the man who delivers the butane 
gas," he said. "For the butane com- 
pany." He glanced around, and sure 
enough, there was the truck, parked 
by the butane gate. "My dad says 
butane is expensive, but there's no 

The man broke in, "Just for the 
sake of curiosity, whaf s the name 
of the butane company?" 

"It's right on the truck," Wise- 
man said, reading the large painted 
letters. "Pinario Butane Distribu- 
tors, Petaluma, California. You're 
Mr. Pinario." 

"Would you be willing to swear 
that you're ten years old, stand- 
ing in a field near Petaluma, Cali- 
fornia?" Mr. Pinario asked. 

"Sure." He could see, beyond the 
field, a range of wooded hills. Now 
he wanted to investigate them; he 
was tired of standing around gab- 
bing. "I'll see you," he said, start- 
ing off. "I have to go get some hik- 
ing done." 

He started running, away from 
Mr. Pinario, down the gravel road. 

Grasshoppers leaped away, ahead 
of him. Gasping, he ran faster and 

"Leon!" Mr. Pinario called after 
him. "You might as well give up! 
Stop running!" 

"I've got business in those hills," 
Wiseman panted, still jogging 
along. Suddenly something struck 
him full force; he sprawled on his 
hands, tried to get back up. In the 
dry midday air, something shim- 
mered; he felt fear and pulled away 
from it. A shape formed, a flat 
wall ... 

"You won't get to those hills," 
Mr. Pinario said, from behind him. 
"Better stay in roughly one place. 
Otherwise you collide with things." 

Wiseman's hands were damp 
with blood; he had cut himself fall- 
ing. In bewilderment, he stared 
down at the blood . . . 

P INARIO helped him out of the 
•*• cowboy suit, saying, "It's as un- 
wholesome a toy as you could want. 



A short period with it on, and the 
child would be unable to face con- 
temporary reality. Look at you." 

Standing with difficulty, Wise- 
man inspected the suit; Pinario had 
forcibly taken it from him. 

"Not bad," he said in a trembling 
voice. "It obviously stimulates the 
withdrawal tendencies already 
present. I know I've always had a 
latent retreat fantasy toward my 
childhood. That particular period, 
when we lived in the country." 

"Notice how you incorporated 
real elements into it," Pinario said, 
"to keep the fantasy going as long 
as possible. If you'd had time, you 
would have figured a way of incor- 
porating the lab wall into it, pos- 
sibly as the side of a barn." 

Wiseman admitted, "I — already 
had started to see the old dairy 
building, where the farmers brought 
their market milk." 

"In time," Pinario said, "it would 
have been next to impossible to get 
you out of it." 

To himself, Wiseman thought, If 
it could do that to an adult, just 
imagine the effect on a child. 

"That other thing you have 
there," Pinario said, "that game, it's 
a screwball notion. You feel like 
looking at it now? It can wait." 

"I'm okay," Wiseman said. He 
picked up the third item and be- 
gan to open it 

"A lot like the old game of 
Monopoly," Pinario said. "It's 
called Syndrome." 


The game consisted of a board, 
plus play money, dice, pieces to 
represent the players. And stock 

"You acquire stock," Pinario 
said, "same as in all this kind, ob- 
viously." He didn't even bother to 
look at the instructions. "Let's get 
Fowler down here and play a hand; 
it takes at least three." 

Shortly, they had the Division 
Director with them. The three men 
seated themselves at a table, the 
game of Syndrome in the center. 

"Each player starts out equal 
with the others," Pinario explained, 
"same as all this type, and during 
the play, their statuses change ac- 
cording to the worth of the stock 
they acquire in various economic 

The syndromes were repre- 
sented by small, bright plastic ob- 
jects, much like the archaic hotels 
and houses of Monopoly. 

They threw the dice, moved 
their counters along the board, bid 
for and acquired property, paid 

fines, collected fines, went to the 
"decontamination chamber" for a 
period. Meanwhile, behind them, 
the seven model soldiers crept up 
on the citadel again and again. 

"I'm tired of that," the child- 
dummy said. "Do something else." 

The soldiers regrouped. Once 
more they started out, getting near- 
er and nearer the citadel. 

Restless and irritable, Wiseman 
said, "I wonder how long that damn 


thing has to go on before we find 
out what if s for." 

"No telling." Pinario eyed a pur- 
ple-and-gold share of stock that 
Fowler had acquired. "I can use 
that," he said. "That's a heavy uran- 
ium mine stock on Pluto. What do 
you want for it?" 

"Valuable property," Fowler 
murmured, consulting his other 
stocks. "I might make a trade, 


OW can I concentrate on a 
game, Wiseman asked him- 
self, when that thing is getting 
closer and nearer to — God knows 
what? To whatever it was built to 
reach. Its critical mass, he thought 

"Just a second," he said in a slow, 
careful voice. He put down his hand 
of stocks. "Could that citadel be a 

"Pile of what?" Fowler asked, 
concerned with his hand. 

Wiseman said loudly, "Forget 
this game." 

"An interesting idea," Pinario 
said, also putting down his hand. 
"It's constructing itself into an 
atomic bomb, piece by piece. Add- 
ing until—" He broke off. "No, we 
thought of that. There're no heavy 
elements present in it. It's simply 
a five-year battery, plus a number 
of small machines controlled by in- 
structions broadcast from the bat- 
tery itself. You can't make an 
atomic pile out of that." 

"In my opinion," Wiseman said, 

"we'd be safer getting it out of 
here." His experience with the cow- 
boy suit had given him a great deal 
more respect for the Ganymedean 
artificers. And if the suit was the 
benign one . . . 

Fowler, looking past his shoul- 
der, said, "There are only six sol- 
diers now." 

Both Wiseman and Pinario got 
up instantly. Fowler was right. 
Only half of the set of soldiers re- 
mained. One more had reached the 
citadel and been incorporated. 

"Let's get a bomb expert from 
the Military Services in here," 
Wiseman said, "and let him check 
it. This is out of our department." 
He turned to his boss, Fowler. 
"Don't you agree?" 

Fowler said, "Lefs finish this 
game first." 


"Because we want to be certain 
about it," Fowler said. But his rapt 
interest showed that he had gotten 
emotionally involved and wanted 
to play to the end of the game. 
"What will you give me for this 
share of Pluto stock? I'm open to 

He and Pinario negotiated a 
trade. The game continued for an- 
other hour. At last, all three of them 
could see that Fowler was gaining 
control of the various stocks. He 
had five mining syndromes, plus 
two plastics firms, an algae monop- 
oly, and all seven of the retail trad- 
ing syndromes. Due to his control 



of the stock, he had, as a byproduct, 
gotten most of the money. 

"I'm out," Pinario said. All he 
had left were minor shares which 
controlled nothing. "Anybody want 
to buy these?" 

With his last remaining money, 
Wiseman bid for the shares. He got 
them and resumed playing, this 
time against Fowler alone. 

"It's clear that this game is a 
replica of typical interculture eco- 
nomic ventures," Wiseman said. 
"The retail trading syndromes are 
obviously Ganymede; *n hoi. «ngs." 

A FLICKER of excitement 
-^*- stirred in him; he had gotten 
a couple of good throws with the 
dice and was in a position to add a 
share to his meager holdings. "Chil- 
dren playing this would acquire a 
healthy attitude toward economic 
realities. It would prepare them for 
the adult world." 

But a few minutes later, he 
landed on an enormous tract of 
Fowler holdings, and the fine wiped 
out his resources. He had to give 
up two shares of stock; the end was 
in sight 

Pinario, watching the soldiers ad- 
vance toward the citadel, said, 
"You know, Leon, I'm inclined to 
agree with you. This thing may be 
one terminal of a bomb. A receiv- 
ing station of some kind. When it's 
completely wired up, it might bring 
in a surge of power transmitted 
from Ganymede." 

"Is such a tiling possible?" Fow- 
ler asked, stacking his play money 
into the different denominations. 

"Who knows what they can do?" 
Pinario said, wandering around 
with his hands in his pockets. Are 
you almost finished playing?" 

"Just about," Wiseman said. 

"The reason I say that," Pinario 
said, "is that now t only five 

soldiers. It's speeding ip. It took a 
week for the first one, md only an 
hour for the seventh. I wouldn't be 
surprised if the rest go within the 
next two hours, all five of them." 

"We're finished," Fowler said. He 
had acquired the last share of stock 
and the last dollar. 

Wiseman arose from the table, 
leaving Fowler. "I'll call Military 
Services to check the citadel. About 
this game, though, it's nothing but 
a steal from our Terran game 

"Possibly they don't realize that 
we have the game already," Fowler 
said, "under another name." 

A stamp of admissibility was 
placed on the game of Syndrome 
and the importer was informed. In 
his office, Wiseman called Military 
Services and told them what he 

"A bomb expert will be right 
over," the unhurried voice at the 
other end of the line said. "Prob- 
ably you should leave the object 
alone until he arrives." 

Feeling somewhat useless, Wise- 
man thanked the clerk and hung 



up. They had failed to dope out the 
soldlers-and-citadel war game; now 
it was out of their hands. 

THE bomb expert was a young 
man, with close-cropped hair, 
who smiled friendlily at them as he 
set down his equipment. He wore 
ordinary coveralls, with no protec- 
tive devices. 

"My first advice," he said, after 
he had looked the citadel over, "is 
to disconnect the leads from the 
battery. Or, if you want, we can let 
the cycle finish out, and then dis- 
connect the leads before any reac- 
tion takes place. In other words, 
allow the last mobile elements to 
enter the citadel. Then, as soon as 
they're inside, we disconnect the 
leads and open her up and see 
what's been taking place." 

"Is it safe?" Wiseman asked. 

"I think so," the bomb expert 
said. "I don't detect any sign of 
radioactivity in it" He seated him- 
self on the floor, by the rear of the 
citadel, with a pair of cutting pliers 
in his hand. 

Now only three soldiers re- 

"It shouldn't be long," the young 
man said cheerfully. 

Fifteen minutes later, one of the 
three soldiers crept up to the base 
of the citadel, removed his head, 
arm, legs, body, and disappeared 
piecemeal into the opening pro- 
vided for him. 

"That leaves two," Fowler said. 


Ten minutes later, one of the two 
remaining soldiers followed the one 
ahead of him. 

The four men looked at each 
other. "This is almost it," Pinario 
said huskily. 

The last remaining soldier wove 
his way toward the citadel. Guns 
within the citadel fired at him, but 
he continued to make progress. 

"Statistically speaking," Wise- 
man said aloud, to break some of 
the tension, "it should take longer 
each time, because there are fewer 
men for it to concentrate on. It 
should have started out fast, then 
got more infrequent until finally 
this last soldier should put in at 
least a month trying to—" 

"Pipe down," the young bomb 
expert said in a quiet, reasonable 
voice. "If you don't mind." 

The last of the twelve soldiers 
reached the base of the citadel. 
Like those before him, he began to 
disassemble himself. 

"Get those pliers ready," Pinario 

The parts of the soldier traveled 
into the citadel. The opening began 
to close. From within, a humming 
became audible, a rising pitch of 

"Now, for God's sake!" Fowler 

The young bomb expert reached 
down his pliers and cut into the 
positive lead of the battery. A spark 
flashed from the pliers and the 
young bomb expert jumped reflex- 


ively; the pliers flew from his hands 
and skidded across the floor. 
"Jeez!" he said. "I must have been 
grounded." Groggily, he groped 
about for the pliers. 

"You were touching the frame 
of the thing" Pinario said excit- 
edly. He grabbed the pliers him- 
self and crouched down, fumbling 
for the lead. "Maybe if I wrap a 
handkerchief around it," he mut- 
tered, withdrawing the pliers and 
fishing in his pocket for a handker- 
chief. "Anybody got any thing I can 
wrap around this? I don't want to 
get knocked flat. No telling how 
many — " 

"Give it to me," Wiseman de- 
manded, snatching the pliers from 
him. He shoved Pinario aside and 
closed the jaws of the pliers about 
the lead. 

Fowler said calmly, "Too late." 

YfTISEMAN hardly heard his su- 
™ periods voice; he heard the 
constant tone within his head, and 
he put up his hands to his ears, fu- 
tilely, trying to shut it out. Now it 
seemed to pass directly from the 
citadel through his skull, trans- 
mitted by the bone. We stalled 
around too long, he thought. Now 
it has us. It won out because there 
are too many of us; we got to 
squabbling ... 

Within his mind, a voice said, 
"Congratulations. By your forti- 
tude, you have been successful." 

A vast feeling pervaded him 

then, a sense of accomplishment 

"The odds against you were tre- 
mendous," the voice inside his mind 
continued. "Anyone else would 
have failed." 

He knew then that everything 
was all right. They had been wrong. 

"What you have done here," the 
voice declared, "you can continue 
to do all your life. You can always 
triumph over adversaries. By pa- 
tience and persistence, you can win 
out The universe isn't such an 
overwhelming place, after all . . ." 

No, he realized with irony, it 

"They are just ordinary persons," 
the voice soothed. "So even though 
you're only one, an individual 
against many, you have nothing to 
fear. Give it time — and don't 



"I won't," he said aloud. 

The humming receded. The 
voice was gone. 

After a long pause, Fowler said, 
"It's over." 

"I don't get it," Pinario said. 

"That was what it was supposed 
to do," Wiseman said. "It's a thera- 
peutic toy. Helps give the child 
confidence. The disassembling of 
the soldiers — " he grinned — "ends 
the separation between him and the 
world. He becomes one with it. 
And, in doing so, conquers it" 

"Then it's harmless," Fowler 

"All this work for nothing," Pi- 
nario groused. To the bomb expert, 



he said, "I'm sorry we got you up 
here for nothing." 

The citadel had now opened its 
gates wide. Twelve soldiers, once 
more intact, issued forth. The cycle 
was complete; the assault could 
begin again. 

Suddenly Wiseman said, "I'm 
not going to release it" 

"What?" Pinario said. "Why 

"I don't trust it," Wiseman said. 
"It's too complicated for what it 
actually does." 

"Explain," Fowler demanded. 

"There's nothing to explain," 
Wiseman said. "Here's this im- 
mensely intricate gadget, and all 
it does is take itself apart and then 
reassemble itself. There must be 
more, even if we can't—" 

"It's therapeutic," Pinario put in. 

Fowler said, "I'll leave it up to 
you, Leon. If you have doubts, 
then don't release it. We can't be 
too careful." 

"Maybe I'm wrong," Wiseman 
said, "but I keep thinking to my- 
self: What did they actually build 
this for? I feel we still don't know." 

"And the American Cowboy 
Suit," Pinario added. "You don't 
want to release that either." 

"Only the game," Wiseman said. 
"Syndrome, or whatever it's called." 
Bending down, he watched the sol- 
diers as they hustled toward the 
citadel. Bursts of smoke, again . . . 
activity, feigned attacks, careful 

withdrawals . . . 

"What are you thinking?" Pi- 
nario asked, scrutinizing him. 

"Maybe it's a diversion," Wise- 
man said. "To keep our minds in- 
volved. So we won't notice some- 
thing else." That was his intuition, 
but he couldn't pin it down. "A red 
herring," he said. "While something 
else takes place. That's why it's so 
complicated. We were supposed to 
suspect it. That's why they built 

Baffled, he put his foot down in. 
front of a soldier. The soldier took 
refuge behind his shoe, hiding from 
the monitors of the citadel. 

"There must be something right 
before our eyes," Fowler said, 
"that we're not noticing." 

"Yes." Wiseman wondered if 
they would ever find it. "Anyhow," 
he said, "we're keeping it here, 
where we can observe it." 

Seating himself nearby, he pre- 
pared to watch the soldiers. He 
made himself comfortable for a 
long, long wait. 

A T six o'clock that evening, Joe 
^"* Hauck, the sales manager for 
Appeley's Children's Store, parked 
his car before his house, got out, and 
strode up the stairs. 

Under his arm he carried a large 
flat package, a "sample" that he 
had appropriated. 

"Hey!" his two kids, Bobby and 
Lora, squealed as he let himself in. 
"You got something for us, Dad?" 
They crowded around him, block- 



ing his path. In the kitchen, his 
wife looked up from the table and 
put down her magazine. 

"A new game I picked up for 
you," Hauck said. He unwrapped 
the package, feeling genial. There 
was no reason why he shouldn't 
help himself to one of the new 
games; he had been on the phone 
for weeks, getting the stuff through 
Import Standards — and after all 
was said and done, only one of the 
three items had been cleared. 

As* the kids went off with the 
game, his wife said in a low voice, 
"More corruption in high places." 
She had always disapproved of his 
bringing home items from the 
store's stock. 

"We've got thousands of them," 
Hauck said. "A warehouse full. No- 
body'll notice one missing." 

At the dinner table, during the 
meal, the kids scrupulously studied 
every word of the instructions that 
accompanied the game. They were 
aware of nothing else. 

"Don't read at the table," Mrs. 
Hauck said reprovingly. 

Leaning back in his chair, Joe 
Hauck continued his account of the 
day. "And after all that time, what 
did they release? One lousy item. 
We'll be lucky if we can push 
enough to make a profit. It was that 
Shock Troop gimmick that would 
really have paid off. And that's tied 
up indefinitely." 

He lit a cigarette and relaxed, 
feeling the peacefulness of his 


home, the presence of his wife and 

His daughter said, "Dad, do you 
want to play? It says the more who 
play, the better." 

"Sure," Joe Hauck said. 

While his wife cleared the table, 
he and his children spread out the 
board, counters, dice and paper 
money and shares of stock. Almost 
at once he was deep in the game, 
totally involved; his childhood 
memories of game-playing swam 
back, and he acquired shares of 
stock with cunning and originality, 
until, toward the conclusion of the 
game, he had cornered most of the 

He settled back with a sigh of 
contentment. "Thaf s that," he de- 
clared to his children. "Afraid I had 
a head start. After all, I'm not 
new to this type of game." Getting 
hold of the valuable holdings on 
the board filled him with a power- 
ful sense of satisfaction. "Sorry to 
have to win, kids." 

His daughter said, "You didn't 



"You lost," his son said. 

"What?" Joe Hauck exclaimed. 

"The person who winds up with 
the most stock loses" Lora said. 

SHE showed him the instructions. 
"See? The idea is to get rid of 
your stocks. Dad, you're out of the 

"The heck with that," Hauck 
said, disappointed. "That's no kind 


of game." His satisfaction vanished. 
"That's no fun." 

"Now we two have to play out 
the game," Bobby said, "to see who 
finally wins." 

As he got up from the board, Joe 
Hauck grumbled, "I don't get it. 
What would anybody see in a game 
where the winner winds up with 
nothing at all?" 

Behind him, his two children 
continued to play. As stock and 
money changed hands, the children 
became more and more animated. 
When the game entered its final 
stages, the children were in a state 
of ecstatic concentration. 

"They don't know Monopoly," 
Hauck said to himself, "so this 
screwball game doesn't seem 
strange to them." 

Anyhow, the important thing 
was that the kids enjoyed playing 
Syndrome; evidently it would sell, 
and that was what mattered. Al- 
ready the two youngsters were 
learning the naturalness of surren- 
dering their holdings. They gave 
up their stocks and money avidly, 
with a kind of trembling abandon. 

Glancing up, her eyes bright, 
Lora said, "It's the best educational 
toy you ever brought home, Dad!" 




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URING the early part of 
the eighteenth century 

some very vague rumors 
about gigantic bones reached Paris. 
Unaccompanied by any evidence, 
these rumors traveled via Spain, 
for they originated from Argentina. 
Shorn of embroidery and conjec- 
ture, they stated that large bones 
could be found in the pampas. 
These were said to be as large as 


the bones of elephants. 

The gentlemen of the Academy 
in Paris decided that it was best 



not to say anything. As far as any- 
body knew, there were no ele- 
phants in the Americas. Still, South 
America was not well explored yet, 
so — let the Spaniards prove their 
case if they have one. 

It so happened that they did. 

During the earlier years of the 
18th century only occasional single 
bones had been seen by literate 
men, usually in places where a river 
cut into the soil of the pampas. In 
1789 a complete skeleton was 
found, fortunately not too far from 
Buenos Aires, at a place called 
Lujan. The viceroy ordered that 
the bones be excavated and sent to 

came to the foot skeleton and the 
skull. They did not resemble any- 
thing ever seen before, at least not 
in such a size. The skull showed 
clearly that this giant was a sloth. 

Now it needed a name, which 
was compounded from the two 
Greek words for "large" (megas) 
and "mammal" (therion) in the 
Latinized version of Megatherium 

Naturally things did not stop 
with this first skeleton. Pictures of 
it got into books, partly because it 
was the first and partly because it 
was so big. 

More discoveries were made and 

Madrid. There a scientist named scientists soon knew that there had 

Garriga assembled them and, in 
1796, published a first description. 

HP HE animal had been about the 
■*• size of an elephant, or would 
have been if its legs had been a 
little longer. It stood eight feet tall 
at the shoulder and had an overall 
length of 14 feet. 

The first thing that impressed 
Garriga was the legs, but not be- 
cause they were beautiful. The 
bones were incredibly heavy, far 
more massive than the correspond- 
ing bones of an elephant. The tail 
was also very massive and long for 
a big animal (which usually have 
tiny tails) because it was long 
enough to just touch the ground. 
But while the comparison with an 
elephant was obvious because of 
the size, it broke down when it 

been several species of giant sloth. 
The second species to be definitely 
established was Mylodon robustus 
(Fig. 1), which was 11 feet long 
and differed from Megatherium 
mostly in having forelegs about as 
long as its hindlegs; in Megather- 
ium the forelegs are a good deal 
longer than the hindlegs. 

The third species was named 
Mylodon gracilis. Now the word 
gracilis would normally be trans- 
lated as "dainty," but in this case 
the normal, or any other, transla- 
tion just did not apply. The animal 
was by no means "dainty." It was 
a heavy-boned nine-foot monster. 

It is possible that gracilis was 
used merely as the opposite of 
robustus. It is more likely that this 
name is a case of Teutonic humor, 
for the man who coined it was Pro- 



fessor Hermann Burmeister, of 
Germany, who had gone to South 
America on a trip of exploration 
and then decided to stay and settle 
down, mostly because of Mega- 
therium and Mylodon. 

TTERMANN Burmeister was 
-*--■- fifty years old when he made 
this decision (in 1861 or 1862), 
but he still managed to enjoy thir- 
ty-one years of residence in the 
country he adopted for zoological 
reasons. When I state that he "en- 
joyed" these years, I do not use 
the term loosely. According to all 
accounts, life in Prof. Burmeister's 
house was friendly, witty and gay, 
and it was permanently open to 
any fellow scientist and any intelli- 
gent layman who was willing to 
talk Megatherium and other pam- 
pas fossils. That there could pos- 
sibly ever be a shortage of domes- 
tic or imported wines never oc- 
curred to Burmeister, unless he had 
nightmares, which seems unlikely. 
Burmeister's closest scientific as- 
sociate and his successor (when 
Burmeister died in 1892 at the age 
of 85) was Professor Florentino 
Ameghino. Up to 1892, expert de- 
scriptions of pampas fossils had 
been in German; from then on, 

they were in Spanish. But behind 
all the scientific gaiety and the fun 
and thrill of a steady stream of dis- 
coveries there was one unanswered 
question. How old were the bones 
Burmeister and Ameghino dug up, 

cleaned, measured, assembled and 

This question at that time was 
simply unanswerable, but Burmeis- 
ter thought that while he could not 
name a figure, he could at least 
give an answer of sorts. 

There was general agreement 
that man had originated in Asia 
and invaded the American double 
continent via the Bering Strait. 
This naturally meant that man had 
arrived in South America much 
later than in North America, since 
he had to traverse the length of the 
North American continent first. 
Any figures which were then men- 
tioned were naturally guesses; man 
had probably arrived at the north- 
ern end of South America 3000 to 
5000 years ago. Burmeister based 
his answer on this figure. 

Man and Megatherium had 
never met, Burmeister was con- 
vinced, because the natives did not 
have any recollection of such ani- 
mals and had invented a legend to 
account for the bones. They 
thought that the large animal was 
something like a gigantic mole 
which was instantly killed by sun- 
light if it inadvertently "broke sur- 

Burmeister's ideas might have 
been well reasoned, but the facts 
were against him. Megatherium, 
the giant sloth, was very often as- 
sociated with a giant armadillo — 
Glyptodon — and the two animals 
had obviously lived at the same 



time. But remains of Glyptodon 
and human artifacts were some- 
times found together, and the prize 
discovery was a human skeleton 
sitting inside the giant carapace of 
a glyptodon. This was certainly an 
ancient form of burial for some- 
body of importance. Finally, a 
skeleton of Megatherium was un- 
earthed which was incomplete in a 
significant manner. The four legs 
were there and undisturbed, but 
most of the other bones were miss- 
ing, and there had been a fire in the 
center, between the legs. It was 
perfectly apparent that here was a 
giant sloth that had been caught in 
a pit and roasted right in the trap 
from above. 

There was no doubt then that 
the early South American Indians 
had known Megatherium "in the 
flesh," but it still did not answer 
the question: when had this hap- 

TN the meanwhile something else 
■*■ had taken place which did not 
seem to have a connection for a 
long time. By coincidence, another 
German who had made his home 
in South America figures in this 
section of the story, though not as 
prominently by far as Professor 

Near the southern end of Pata- 
gonia there is a fjord or inlet — lo- 
cally called a "canal" — with the 
gloomy name of Ultima Esperanza 
(Last Hope). There the retired 


German sea captain Eberhard 
bought himself some land and built 
a house. Visitors to the Eberhard 
ranch noticed that the hide of a 
large animal was hanging over 
some bushes. Some of these visi- 
tors — or so it was told later — 
tried to cut a piece off that hide, 
which proved to be extraordinarily 
difficult. The reason was that a 
large number of bean-sized "bones" 
were embedded in the hide. If any 
one of these visitors had been a 
naturalist, this fact would have 
done more than just make him sus- 
picious; but evidently nobody, in- 
cluding Captain Eberhard, had any 

profound knowledge of natural his- 

At some time — the date is un- 
certain, but it was after Burmeis- 
ter's death — such a piece of skin 
reached Ameghino. It has never 
been established whether this par- 
ticular piece came from the Eber- 
hard ranch; Ameghino himself did 
not think so. The important thing 
was that this piece of skin was, or 
looked, fresh. Not fresh like ani- 
mal skin in a butcher shop, but 
rather like untanned hide in a sad- 
dler's establishment. In any case it 
certainly was not fossil and Ame- 
ghino decided that logic, however 
incredible, had to prevail. A piece 
of Mylodon skin proved that the 
animal still existed somewhere. 

Ameghino called a press confer- 
ence. Newspapers around the 
world carried articles which de- 


clared: "The Giant Sloth Is not 
Extinct." The very fact that this 
animal, which for so many years 
had been so proverbially extinct, 
was supposed to be still alive set 
thought going in various directions 
at once. 

Was there any evidence in addi- 
tion to the piece of skin? 

Did somebody in the past men- 
tion the giant sloth in any man- 
ner, probably with a native name 
which conveyed no meaning to 
readers elsewhere? 

And, finally, where can they be 
found, to be captured for a zoologi- 
cal garden? 

Professor Ameghino said that 
he did have additional evidence. 
Besides his piece of skin from an 
unknown source, there was the Ul- 
tima Esperanza hide. And then, 
there was the story told by Ramon 
Lista, onetime Governor of Santa 
Cruz — he was later killed by In- 

Lista reported that he had been 
with a hunting party in the interior 
of Patagonia. While camping at 
night, he and his party had seen an 
unknown animal which looked 
somewhat like a pangolin, except 
that it was covered with long hair. 
The animal escaped, even though 
the hunters shot at it with their 

QINCE Ramon Lista was a 
^ learned man with much exper- 
ience in Patagonia (he wrote sev- 

eral books about his land which re- 
ceived high praise and are said 
to be still worthwhile reading), a 
story like this deserved attention. 
Strangely enough, Ameghino at 
first disregarded it, thinking that 
Lista must have been somehow 
mistaken. But then he suddenly 
changed his mind. A while later he 
even coined the scientific name 
Neomylodon listai (Lista's New 
Mylodon) and pointed out that it 
was quite possible that one or more 
of the hunters* shots had hit, but 
that they did no harm because of 
the bony nodules in a Mylodon's 

Then a native legend about a 
Iemish was dragged into the giant 
sloth debate and things really be- 
came confused. The Iemish was 
claimed to be a large beast that 
lived both on land and in the 
water, usually hiding in the water. 
It was a flesh-eater and drowned 
horses to eat them. Or else the 
Iemish was a beast the size of an 
ox that was harmless and noctur- 
nal. During the day it slept in bur- 
rows which it had dug with its large 
claws. Finally somebody supplied 
Ameghino with a "translation" of 
the word Iemish: it was supposed 
to mean "the one with little stones 
on it." Ameghino thought that all 
this went together beautifully and 
could apply only to the Neomylo- 
don listai that he had named. 

All this, however, did not go to- 
gether beautifully. An animal is 



either a flesh-eater, in which case 
it? can't be called harmless, or it is 
harmless, in which case it is not 
likely to be a flesh-eater. But while 
this could be reasoned out by logic 

alone, it took an enormous amount 
of work to establish how the con- 
fusion had taken place. 

The legend of the Iemish, the 
one that often retreats into the 
water and is a flesh-eater, refers es- 
sentially to the jaguar, which is a 
carnivore and does swim well. It 
probably also contains some con- 
fusion with the giant river otter of 
South America, which is of nearly 
the same size, is also carnivorous, 
like all otters, and, like all otters, 
lives in the water. The names which 
could be found in dictionaries that 
sound like iemish mostly are na- 
tive words for "otter* 

Of course the word does not 
translate the way Ameghino re- 
ported. It seems to be simply a 
name. But Ameghino, having been 
handed this significant-looking 
"translation* by somebody, made 
the mistake of applying the name 
iemish to the other legend about 
the ox-sized harmless nocturnal 
animal. (It might be added that 
the two legends did not exist in the 
same place. Their origins were 
1500 or more miles apart.) 

Ameghino, after having made 
this mistake, concluded that he 
had taken care of the question of 
available evidence. Then he set 
out to answer the second question; 

namely, whether the giant sloth 
might not have been mentioned by 
early writers on South America un- 
der another and probably native 
name. Here he was not only far 
more careful, he was also more suc- 

He came across a book entitled 
Hist or ia de la Conquista del Para- 
guay, Rio de la Plata y Tucuman 
by Father Pedro Lozano, S. J., pub- 
lished 1740-1746, in which an ani- 
mal su or succarath was mentioned. 
It was said to be large and to have 
the habit of carrying its young on 
its back. The natives were stated 
to hunt it in spite of the dangers 
involved, for they wanted its skin 
to make durable cloaks. 

ARDLY anybody in Europe 
had ever heard of Father Lo- 
zano before, but when Ameghino 
reported on the su in professional 
journals, all European zoologists 
had an automatic reaction. They 
knew the su. Its picture, however 
fantastic, was on the title page of 
the enormous zoology book by the 
Swiss savant Konrad Gesner (Fig. 
2) which every one of the Euro- 
peans had read. 

There in volume one of Gesner's 
Hist or ia animalium (published in 
Zurich in 1955) one could find a 
paragraph headed De Subo ("Of 
the Su") which translates as fol- 
lows : 

The Most Obnoxious Animal that 



might be seen, called Su in the New 
Lands. There is a place in the newly 
found land where lives a people call- 
ing itself in its language Patagones, and 
since the land is not very warm they 
cover themselves with fur from an ani- 
mal they call Su, which means Water, 
by reason of its dwelling mainly near 
water. It is very dreadful, obnoxious, as 
may be seen. When hunted by the hun- 
ters, it takes its young upon its back, 
covers them with its long tail and thus 
flees. It is caught in pits and killed with 

This had made no sense until 
the fight about the still-living giant 
sloth started; now things had 
changed so that Gesner's para- 
graph might make an exciting kind 
of sense. 

As long as nobody had paid 
much attention to Gesner's para- 
graph as a whole, even less atten- 
tion had been paid to a note which 
said that this description had been 
taken from "Andreas Theuetus." 
Since Gesner wrote in Latin, it was 
only logical that he used the Latin- 
ized form; actually this was the 
name of Andre Thevet. Thevefs 
paragraph on the Su is the same as 
Gesner's naturally, but Thevet has 
one more sentence telling what 
happens after a su has fallen into 
a pit: 

When it sees that it is caught, it 
maims and kills its young (as if mad- 
dened) and gives such terrible cries 
that it makes the Savages very fearful 
and timid. Yet in the end they kill it 
with arrows and then they flay it. 

Incidentally, each of the learned 
men made a linguistic mistake. 
Gesner did not know that the name 
of the Patagonians is not derived 
from their own language, and The- 
vet was wrong in thinking that su 
means water. Its meaning is "cov- 
ering/' Ameghino came close by 
translating su as "cloak." Thevet 
is the only literary source which 
might be construed as referring to 
a giant sloth. If one wants to ac- 
cept it — and I don't see why not — 
one of the smaller forms of giant 
sloth must have been still alive in 
the southern part of South Amer- 
ica during the Middle Ages. 


HP HERE are two more things: 
■*• Where did the hide on Captain 
Eberhard's ranch come from? 
. Well, Captain Eberhard him- 
self located a cave some dis- 
tance from his home. The cave was 
almost completely closed (one 
could just squeeze through) by a 
wall of boulders which was obvi- 
ously piled up by people. Inside 
the cave, the amateur explorers 
found a human skeleton, two more 

hides, and what is generally called 
a kitchen midden. Later, profes- 
sional investigators discovered 
Mylodon droppings over a foot 
deep, and when they went to work 
on these droppings, they saw that 
they contained ends of plant stalks 
which had been cut. The teeth of 
the animals could not have pro- 
duced such a clean end. 



Fig. 1: Reconstruction of extinct giant sloth Mylodon. 

One of the investigators, Profes- 
sor Santiago Roth, then proposed 
to rename the animal Grypother- 
ium domesticum, since the Indians 
had apparently domesticated it. 
This would not have been impos- 
sible by itself, but there is one 
major fact that speaks against the 
idea: domesticated animals do not 
become extinct! Man sees to it that 
they don't. If the Indians had wide- 
ly domesticated the Mylodon, it 
would still be around with its mas- 
ters. More likely the animals were 
just rounded up in the open and 
chased into the cave, where they 
were kept alive with forage until 
the time came to kill and eat them. 

Before finishing up with the cur- 
rent scientific opinion about the 
whole matter, one episode, amus- 
ing in retrospect, must be told. 
Early in this century Sir Ray Lan- 
kester, director of the Natural His- 
tory Museum in London, per- 
mitted himself to be quoted to the 
effect that it seemed possible that 
a ground sloth of the Mylodon 
type might still be alive in little- 
known parts of Patagonia. 

This was good enough for the 
owner of the London Daily Ex- 
press. He decided to finance an ex- 
pedition to Patagonia to search for 
a living mylodon and bring it back 
to England, alive if possible, dead 



Fig. 2: The animal Su as it appears on title page of Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium 

if it could not be helped. 

The expedition was headed by 
a man named Hesketh H. Pritch- 
ard, who must have been an impa- 
tient type. Nobody knew at the 
time that Ameghino had blundered 
with respect to the Iemish, so 
Pritchard set out with what he be- 
lieved to be a body of facts to guide 
him. In South America, he quick- 
Jy learned that a major mistake 
had been made somewhere and he 
grew furious. Though he had trav- 
eled thousands of miles and had 
only another two or three hundred 
miles to go to reach Captain Eber- 
hard's ranch, he did not do so. 
He turned around, went back to 

England and wrote perhaps the 
most ill-tempered book ever 
printed. The Iemish did not exist, 
the legend about it was the inven- 
tion of some publicity seekers, the 
whole thing was a pack of lies and, 
most important, he, Hesketh H. 
Pritchard, had been hoaxed. 

Well, how do things stand now? 

NE of the newer and most use- 
ful tools of science, radio-car- 
bon dating, does not help much 


here for lack of material. The first 
list of radio-carbon dates (Science, 
February 2, 1951) contained two 
entries about giant sloth material. 
They were : 



No. 484 

No. 485 

Chilean Sloth: Dung of giant 
sloth from Mylodon Cave, 
Ultima Esperanza, Chile (51° 
35'S.). Not associated with 
human artifacts, though sloth 
and man found together in 
three caves 125 miles dis- 
tant (c/. sample 485) 10,800 
± 570; 10,864 ± 720; 10,832 
± 400 (years). 

Chilean Bone: Burned bone 
of sloth, horse and guanaco, 
associated with human bones 
and artifacts. Valuable in de- 
termining time of arrival of 
man at tip of South America. 
Material found in Palliaike 
Cave, 125 miles east of My- 
lodon. Comment: Most an- 
cient of human samples from 
South America. 8639 ± 450. 

In other words, the samples that 
happened to be dated are pretty 
old and do not help us in determin- 

ing how long the giant sloth lived 
in South America. It would be so 
nice if we found a sample which at 
least makes it certain that Thevefs 
Su was a ground sloth. 

Pritchard's expedition was not 
the last. Two others were organ- 
ized. Both returned empty-handed. 
This, of course, is not proof that 
there are no living ground sloths 
any more; large portions of South 
America are still poorly known. 
And one can always argue that it 
is hard to see why a plant-eater 
should become extinct in green 
South America, where there have 
been no climatic changes for thou- 
sands of years. There is no answer 
to that argument except that no 
living, or freshly killed, ground 
sloth has yet turned up. 











Certainly I see things 

that aren't there 

and don't say what my 

voice says—but how 

can I prove 

that I don't have my health? 

WHEN he began his talk 
with "You got your health, 
don't you?" it touched 
those spots inside me. That was 
when I did it. 

Why couldn't what he said have 
been "The best things in life are 
free, buddy" or "Every dog has his 
day, fellow" or "If at first you don't 
succeed, man"? No, he had to use 
that one line. You wouldn't blame 
me. Not if you believe me. 

Illustrated by DICK FRANCIS 



The first thing I can remember, 
the start of all this, was when I 
was four or five somebody was soil- 
ing my bed for me. I absolutely was 
not doing it. I took long naps morn- 
ing and evening so I could lie 
awake all night to see that it 
wouldn't happen. It couldn't hap- 
pen. But in the morning the bed 
would sit there dispassionately 
soiled and convict me on circum- 
stantial evidence. My punishment 
was as sure as the tide. 

Dad was a compact man, small 
eyes, small mouth, tight clothes. 
He was narrow but not mean. For 
punishment, he locked me in a win- 
dowless room and told me to sit 
still until he came back. It wasn't 
so bad a punishment, except that 
when Dad closed the door, the light 
turned off and I was left there in 
the dark. 

Being four or five, I didn't know 
any better, so I thought Dad made 
it dark to add to my punishment. 
But I learned he didn't know the 
light went out. It came back on 
when he unlocked the door. Every 
time I told him about the light as 
soon as I could talk again, but he 
said I was lying. 

i^kNE day, to prove me a liar, he 
^-* opened and closed the door 
a few times from outside. The lignt 
winked off and on, off and on, al- 
ways shining when Dad stuck his 
head inside. He tried using the door 
from the inside, and the light 

stayed on, no matter how hard he 
slammed the door. 

I stayed in the dark longer for 
lying about the light. 

Alone in the dark, I wouldn't 
have had it so bad if it wasn't for 
the things that came to me. 

They were real to me. They 
never touched me, but they had a 
little boy. He looked the way I did 
in the mirror. They did unpleasant 
things to him. 

Because they were real, I talked 
about them as if they were real, and 
I almost earned a bunk in the home 
for retarded children until I got 
smart enough to keep the beasts to 

My mother hated me. I loved 
her, of course. I remember her 
smell mixed up with flowers and 
cookies and winter fires. I remem- 
ber she hugged me on my ninth 
birthday. The trouble came from 
the notes written in my awkward 
hand that she found, calling her 
names I didn't understand. Some- 
times there were drawings. I didn't 
write those notes or make those 

My mother and father must 
have been glad when I was sent 
away to reform school after my 
thirteenth birthday party, the one 
no one came to. 

The reform school was nicer. 
There were others there who'd had 
it about like me. We got along. I 
didn't watch their shifty eyes too 
much, or ask them what they 



shifted to see. They didn't talk 
about my screams at night. 

It was home. 

My trouble there was that I was 
always being framed for stealing. 
I didn't take any of those things 
they located in my bunk. Stealing 
wasn't in my line. If you believe 
any of this at all, you'll see why it 
couldn't be me who did the steal- 

There was reason for me to steal, 
if I could have got away with it. 
The others got money from home 
to buy the things they needed — 
razor blades, candy, sticks of tea. 
I got a letter from Mom or Dad 
every now and then before they 
were killed, saying they had sent 
money or that it was enclosed, but 

somehow I never got a dime of it. 
When I was expelled from re- 
form school, I left with just one 
idea in mind — to get all the money 
I could ever use for the things I 
needed and the things I wanted. 

T was two or three years later 
that I skulked into Brother 
Partridge's mission on Durbin 

The preacher and half a dozen 
men were singing Onward Chris- 
tian Soldiers in the meeting room. 
It was a drafty hall with varnished 
camp chairs. I shuffled in at the 
back with my suitcoat collar turned 
up around my stubbled jaw. I made 
my hand shaky as I ran it through 
my knotted hair. Partridge was 

supposed to think I was just a bum. 
As an inspiration, I hugged my 
chest to make him think I was 
some wino nursing a flask full of 
Sneaky Pete. All I had there was a 
piece of copper alloy tubing inside 
a slice of plastic hose for taking 
care of myself, rolling sailors and 
the like. Who had the price of a 

Partridge didn't seem to notice 
me, but I knew that was an act. I 
knew people were always watching 
every move I made. He braced his 
red-furred hands on the sides of his 
auctioneer's stand and leaned his 
splotched eagle beak toward us. 
"Brothers, this being Thanksgiving, 
I pray the good Lord that we all 
are truly thankful for all that we 
have received. Amen." 

Some skin-and-bones character 
I didn't know struggled out of his 
seat, amening. I could see he had 
a lot to be thankful for — 
where he had received a fix. 

"Brothers," Partridge went on 
after enjoying the interruption with 
a beaming smile, "you shall all be 
entitled to a bowl of turkey soup 
prepared by Sister Partridge, a 
generous supply of sweet rolls and 
dinner rolls contributed by the 
Early Morning Bakery of this city, 
and all the coffee you can drink. 
Let us march out to The Stars and 
Stripes Forever, John Philip 
Sousa's grand old patriotic song." 

I had to laugh at all those bums 
clattering the chairs in front of me, 




scampering after water soup and 
stale bread. As soon as I got 
cleaned up, I was going to have 
dinner in a good restaurant, and I 
was going to order such expensive 
food and leave such a large tip for 


the waiter and send one to the chef 
that they were going to think I 
was rich, and some executive with 
some brokerage firm would see me 
and say to himself, "Hmm, execu- 
tive material. Just the type we 
need. I beg your pardon, sir— * just 
like the razor-blade comic-strip 
ads in the old magazines that 
Frankie the Pig sells three for a 

I was marching. Man, was I ever 
marching, but the secret of it was 
I was only marking time the way 
we did in fire drills at the school. 

They passed me, every one of 
them, and marched out of the meet- 
ing room into the kitchen. Even 
Partridge made his way down from 
the auctioneer's stand like a vulture 
with a busted wing and darted 
through his private door. 

I was alone, marking time behind 
the closed half of double doors. One 
good breath and I raced past the 
open door and flattened myself to 
the wall. Crockery was ringing and 
men were slurping inside. No one 
had paid any attention to me. That 
was pretty odd. People usually 
watch my every move, but a man's 
luck has to change sometime, 
doesn't it? 

Following the wallboard, I went 

down the side of the room and 

behind the last row of chairs, closer, 
closer, and halfway up the room 
again to the entrance— the entrance 
and the little wooden box fastened 
to the wall beside it. 

The box was old and made out 
of some varnished wood. There was 
a slot in the top. There wasn't any 
sign anywhere around it, but you 
knew it wasn't a mailbox. 

My hand went flat on the top of 
the box. One finger at a time drew 
up and slipped into the slot. Index, 
fore, third, little. I put my thumb 
in my palm and shoved. My hand 
went in. 

There were coins inside. I 
scooped them up with two fingers 
and held them fast with the other 

two. Once I dropped a dime — not a 

penny, milled edge — and I started 
to reach for it. No, don't be greedy. 
I knew I would probably lose my 
hold on all the coins if I tried for 
that one. I had all the rest. It felt 
like about two dollars, or close to it. 

Then I found the bill. A neatly 
folded bill in the box. Somehow I 
knew all along it would be there. 

tried to read the numbers on the 
bill with my fingertips, but I 
couldn't. It had to be a one. Who 
drops anything but a one into a 
Skid Row collection box? But still 
there were tourists, slummers. 
They might leave a fifty or even a 
hundred. A hundred! 

Yes, it felt new, crisp. It had to 



be a hundred. A single would be 
creased or worn. 

I pulled my hand out of the box. 
I tried to pull my hand out of the 

I knew what the trouble was, of 
course. I was in a monkey trap. 
The monkey reaches through the 
hole for the bait, and when he gets 
it in his hot little fist, he can't get 
his hand out. He's too greedy to let 
go, so he stays there, caught as se- 
curely as if he were caged. 

I was a man, not a monkey. I 
knew why I couldn't get my hand 
out. But I couldn't lose that money, 
especially that century bill. Calm, 
I ordered myself. Calm. 

The box was fastened to the 
vertical tongue-and-groove laths of 
the woodwork, not the wall. It was 
old lumber, stiffened by a hundred 
layers of paint since 1908. The 
paint was as thick and strong as the 
boards. The box was fastened fast. 
Six-inch spike nails, I guessed. 

Calmly, I flung my whole weight 
away from the wall. My wrist al- 
most cracked, but there wasn't 
even a bend in the box. Carefully, 
I tried to jerk my fist straight up, to 
pry off the top of the box. It was as 
if the box had been carved out of 
one solid piece of timber. It 
wouldn't go up, down, left or right. 

But I kept trying. 

While keeping a lookout for Par- 
tridge and somebody stepping out 
of the kitchen for a pull on a 
bottle, I spotted the clock for the 

first time, a Western Union clock 
high up at the back of the hall. Just 
as I seen it for the first time, the 
electricity wound the spring motor 
inside like a chicken having its 
neck wrung. 

The next time I glanced at the 
clock, it said ten minutes had gone 
by. My hand still wasn't free and 
I hadn't budged the box. 

"This," Brother Partridge said, 
"is one of the most profound exper- 
iences of my life." 

My head hinged until it lined 
my eyes up with Brother Partridge. 
The pipe hung heavy in my pocket, 
but he was too far from me. 

"A vision of you at the box pro- 
jected itself on the crest of my 
soup," the preacher explained in 

I nodded. "Swimming right in 
there with the dead duck." 

"Cold turkey," he corrected. "Are 
you scoffing at a miracle?" 

"People are always watching me, 
Brother," I said. "So now they do 
it even when they aren't around. I 
should have known it would come 
to that." 

The pipe was suddenly a weight 
I wanted off me. I would try rob- 
bing a collection box, knowing posi- 
tively that I would get caught, but 
I wasn't dumb enough to murder. 
Somebody, somewhere, would be 
a witness to it. I had never got away 
with anything in my life. I was too 
smart to even try anything but the 
little things. 



"I may be able to help you," 
Brother Partridge said, "if you have 
faith and a conscience." 

"I've got something better than 
a conscience," I told him. 


garded me solemnly. "There 
must be something special about 
you, for your apprehension to come 
through miraculous intervention. 
But I can't imagine what." 

"I always get apprehended some- 
how, Brother," I said. "I'm pretty 

"Your name?" 

"William Hagle." No sense lying. 
I had been booked and printed be- 

Partridge prodded me with his 
bony fingers as if making sure I 
was substantial. "Come. Let's sit 
down, if you can remove your fist 
from the money box." 

I opened up my fingers and let 
the coins ring inside the box and I 
drew out my hand. The bill stuck 
to the sweat on my fingers and slid 
out along with the digits. A one, I 
decided. I had got into trouble for 
a grubby single. It wasn't any cen- 
tury. I had been kidding myself. 

I unfolded the note. Sure 
enough, it wasn't a hundred-dollar 
bill, but it was a twenty, and that 
was almost the same thing to me. 

I creased it and put it back into the 

As long as it stalled off the cops, 
I'd talk to Partridge. 


We took a couple of camp chairs 
and I told him the story of my life, 
or most of it. It was hard work on 
an empty stomach; I wished I'd 
had some of that turkey soup. Then 
again I was glad I hadn't. Some- 
thing always happened to me when 
I thought back over my life. The 
same thing. 

The men filed out of the kitchen, 
wiping their chins, and I went right 
on talking. 

After some time Sister Partridge 
bustled in and snapped on the over- 
head lights and I kept talking. The 
brother still hadn't used the phone 
to call the cops. 

"Remarkable," Partridge finally 
said when I got so hoarse I had to 
take a break. "One is almost — al- 
most — reminded of Job. William, 
you are being punished for some 
great sin. Of that, I'm sure." 

"Punished for a sin? But, Broth- 
er, I've always had it like this, as 
long as I can remember. What kind 
of a sin could I have committed 


when I was fresh out of my crib? 

"William, all I can tell you is 
that time means nothing in Heaven. 
Do you deny the transmigration of 

"Well," I said, "I've had no per- 
sonal experience—" 

"Of course you have, William! 
Say you don't remember. Say you 
don't want to remember. But don't 
say you have no personal experi- 

"And you think I'm being pun- 


ished for something I did in a pre- 
vious life?" 

He looked at me in disbelief. 
"What else could it be?" 

"I don't know," I confessed. "I 
certainly haven't done anything 
that bad in this life." 

"William, if you atone for this 
sin, perhaps the horde of locusts 
will lift from you." 

It wasn't much of a chance, but 
I was unused to having any at all. 
I shook off the dizziness of it. "By 
the Lord Harry, Brother, I'm going 
to give it a try!" I cried. 

"I believe you," Partridge said, 
surprised at himself. 

He ambled over to the money 
box on the wall. He tapped the 
bottom lightly and a box with no 
top slid out of the slightly larger 
box. He reached in, fished out the 
bill and presented it to me. 

"Perhaps this will help in your 
atonement," he said. 

I crumpled it into my pocket 
fast. Not meaning to sound ungrate- 
ful, I'm pretty sure he hadn't no- 
ticed it was a twenty. 

And then the bill seemed to lie 
there, heavy, a lead weight It 
would have been different if I had 
managed to get it out of the box 
myself. You know how it is. 

Money you haven't earned 
doesn't seem real to you. 

r T 1 HERE was something I forgot 

■*- to mention so far. During the 

year between when I got out of the 

reformatory and the one when I 
tried to steal Brother Partridge's 
money, I killed a man. 

It was all an accident, but killing 
somebody is reason enough to get 
punished. It didn't have to be a sin 
in some previous life, you see. 

I had gotten my first job in too 
long, stacking boxes at the freight 
door of Baysinger's. The drivers un- 
loaded the stuff, but they just 
dumped it off the truck. An empty 
rear end was all they wanted. The 
freight boss told me to stack the 
boxes inside, neat and not too close 

I stacked boxes the first day. I 
stacked more the second. The third 
day I went outside with my balo- 
ney and crackers. It was warm 
enough even for November. 

Two of them, dressed like Har- 
vard seniors, caps and striped duf- 
fer jackets, came up to the crate I 
was dining off. 

"Work inside, Jack?" the taller 
one asked. 

"Yeah," I said, chewing. 

"What do you do, Jack?" the fat- 
ter one asked. 

"Stack boxes." 

"Got a union card?" 

I shook my head. 


"No," I said. "I'm just helping 
out during Christmas." 

"You're a scab, buddy," Long- 
legs said. "Don't you read the pa- 

"I don't like comic strips," I said. 



They sighed. I think they hated 
to do it, but I was bucking the 

Fats hit me high. Long-legs hit 
me low. I blew cracker crumbs into 
their faces. After that, I just let 
them go. I know how to take a 
beating. That's one thing I knew 

Then lying there, bleeding to 
myself, I heard them talking. I 
heard noises like make an example 
of him and do something perma- 
nent and I squirmed away across 
the rubbish like a polite mouse. 

I made it around a corner of 
brick and stood up, hurting my 
knee on a piece of brown-splotched 
pipe. There were noises on the 
other angle of the corner and so I 
tested if the pipe was loose and it 
was. I closed my eyes and brought 
the pipe up and then down. 

It felt as if I connected, but I 
was so numb, I wasn't sure until I 
unscrewed my eyes. 

There was a big man in a heavy 
wool overcoat and gray homburg 
spread on a damp centerfold from 
the News. There was a pick-up 
slip from the warehouse under the 
fingers of one hand, and somebody 
had beaten his brains out. 

The police figured it was part of 
some labor dispute, I guess, and 
they never got to me. 

I suppose I was to blame any- 
way. If I hadn't been alive, if I 
hadn't been there to get beaten up, 
it wouldn't have happened. I could 
see the point in making me suffer 


for it. There was a lot to be said for 
looking at it like that. But there 
was nothing to be said for telling 
Brother Partridge about the acci- 
dent, or murder, or whatever had 

happened that day. 

^ EARCHING myself after I left 
^ Brother Partridge, I finally 
found a strip of gray adhesive tape 
on my side, out of the fuzzy area. 
Making the twenty the size of a 
thick postage stamp, I peeled back 
the tape and put the folded bill on 
the white skin and smoothed the 
tape back. 

There was only one place for me 
to go now. I headed for the public 
library. It was only about twenty 
blocks, but not having had anything 

to eat since the day before, it ener- 
vated me. 

The downstairs washroom was 
where I went first. There was no- 
body there but an old guy talking 
urgently to a kid with thick glasses, 
and somebody building a fix in one 
of the booths. I could see charred 
matches dropping down on the 
floor next to his tennis shoes, and 
even a few grains of white stuff. 
But he managed to hold still 
enough to keep from spilling more 
from the spoon* 

I washed my hands and face, 
smoothed my hair down, combing 
it with my fingers. Going over my 
suit with damp toweling got off a 
lot of the dirt. I put my collar on 
the outside of my jacket and 


creased the wings with my thumb- 
nail so it would look more like a 
sports shirt. It didn't really. I still 
looked like a bum, but sort of a 
neat, non-objectionable bum. 

The librarian at the main desk 
looked sympathetically hostile, or 
hostilely sympathetic. 

"I'd like to get into the stacks, 
miss," I said, "and see some of the 
old newspapers." 

"Which newspapers?" the old 
girl asked stiffly. 

I thought back. I couldn't re- 
member the exact date. "Ones for 
the first week in November last 

"We have the Times microfilmed. 
I would have to project them for 

"I didn't want to see the Times" 
I said, fast. "Don't you have any 
newspapers on paper?" I didn't 
want her to see what I wanted to 
read up on. 

"We have the News, bound, for 
last year." 

I nodded. "Thaf s the one I 
wanted to see." 

She sniffed and told me to fol- 
low her* I didn't rate a cart to my 
table, I guess, or else the bound 
papers weren't supposed to come 
out of the stacks. 

The cases of books, row after 
row, smelled good. Like old leather 
and good pipe tobacco. I had been 
here before. In this world, ir*s the 
man with education who makes the 

Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia. So 
far I knew a lot about Mark 
Antony, Atomic Energy, Boron, 
Brussels, Catapults, Demons, and 

I guess I had stopped to look 
around at some of the titles, be- 
cause the busy librarian said 
sharply, "Follow me." 

I heard my voice say, "A pleas- 
ure. What about after work?" 

I didn't say it, but I was used 
to my voice independently saying 
things. Her neck got to flaming, but 
she walked stiffly ahead. She didn't 
say anything. She must be awful 
mad, I decided. But then I got the 
idea she was flushed with pleasure. 
I'm pretty ugly and I looked like 
a bum, but I was young. You had 
to grant me that. 

She waved a hand at the rows of 
bound News and left me alone with 
them. I wasn't sure if I was al- 
lowed to hunt up a table to lay the 
books on or not, so I took the vol- 
ume for last year and laid it on the 
floor. That was the cleanest floor I 
ever saw. 

It didn't take me long to find the 
story. The victim was a big man, 
because the story was on the 


second page of the Nov. 4 edition. 

I started to tear the page out, 
then only memorized the name and 
home address. Somebody was sure 
to see me and I couldn't risk 
trouble just now. 

I stuck the book back in line and 

money. I had been reading the left ^y the side door. 



went to a dry-cleaner, not the the pink bath towel evenly. I cut 

cheapest place I knew, because 

I wouldn't be safe with the change 
from a twenty in that neighbor- 
hood. My suit was cleaned while I 
waited. I paid a little extra and had 
it mended. Funny thing about a 
suit — it's almost never completely 
shot unless you just have it ripped 
off you or burned up. It wasn't 
exactly in style, but some rich 
executives wore suits out of style 
that they had paid a lot of money 
for. I remembered Fredric March's 
double-breasted in Executive Suite 
while Walter Pidgeon and the rest 
wore Ivy Leagues. Maybe I would 
look like an eccentric executive. 

I bought a new shirt, a good used 
pair of shoes, and a dime pack of 
single-edged razor blades. I didn't 
have a razor, but anybody with 
nerve can shave with a single-edge 

blade and soap and water. 

The clerk took my two bucks in 
advance and I went up to my room. 

I washed out my socks and un- 
derwear, took a bath, shaved and 
trimmed my hair and nails with 
the razor blade. With some soap 
on my finger, I scrubbed my teeth. 
Finally I got dressed. 

Everything was all right except 
that I didn't have a tie. They had 

them, a quarter a piece, where I got 
the shoes. It was only six blocks — 
I could go back. But I didn't want 
to wait. I wanted to complete the 

The razor blade sliced through 

out a nice modern-style tie, nar- 
row, with some horizontal stripes 
down at the bottom. I made a tight, 
thin knot. It looked pretty good. 

I was ready to leave, so I started 
for the door. I went back. I had 
almost forgotten my luggage. The 
box still had three unwrapped 
blades in it I pocketed it. I hefted 
the used blade, dulled by all the 
work it had done. You can run 
being economical into stinginess. I 
tossed it into the wastebasket. 

I had five hamburgers with, and 
five cups of coffee. I couldn't finish 
all of the French fries. 

"Mac," I said to the fat counter- 
man, who looked like all fat coun- 
termen, "give me a Milwaukee 

He stopped polishing the counter 
in front of his friend. "Milwaukee, 
Wisconsin, or Milwaukee, Ore- 


He didn't argue. 

It was cold and bitter. All beer is 
bitter, no matter what they say on 
TV. I like beer. I like the bitterness 
of it. 

It felt like another, but I checked 
myself. I needed a clear head. I 
thought about going back to the 
hotel for some sleep; I still had the 
key in my pocket (I wasn't trusting 
it to any clerk). No, I had had 
sleep on Thanksgiving, bracing up 
for trying the lift at Brother Par- 
tridge's. Let's see, it was daylight 



outside again, so this was the day 
after Thanksgiving. But it had only 
been sixteen or twenty hours since 
I had slept. That was enough. 

I left the money on the counter 
for the hamburgers with and coffee 
and the beer. There was $7.68 left. 

As I passed the counterman's 
friend on his stool, my voice said, 
"I think you're yellow." 

He turned slowly, his jaw mov- 
ing further away from his brain. 

I winked. "It was just a bet for 
me to say that to you. I won two 
bucks. Half of it is yours." I held 
out the bill to him. 

His paw closed over the money 
and punched me on the biceps. 
Too hard. He winked back. "It's 

I rubbed my shoulder, marching 
off fast, and I counted my money. 


With my luck, I might have given 
the counterman's friend the five 
instead of one of the singles. But I 
hadn't. I now had $6.68 left. 

"I still think you're yellow," my 
voice said. 

It was my voice, but it didn't 
come from me. There were no 
words, no feeling of words in my 
throat. It just came out of the air 
the way it always did. 

I ran. 

•"-■*■ 49, vice-president of Baysing- 
er's, was found dead behind the 
store last night. His skull had been 
crushed by a vicious beating with 

a heavy implement, Coroner Mc- 
Clain announced in preliminary 
verdict. Tompkins, who resided at 
1467 Claremont, Edgeway, had 
been active in seeking labor-man- 
agement peace in the recent diffi- 
culties ... 

I had read that a year before. 
The car cards on the clanking sub- 
way and the rumbling bus didn't 
seem nearly so interesting to me. 
Outside the van, a tasteful sign 
announced the limits of the village 
of Edgeway, and back inside, the 
monsters of my boyhood went 
bloomp at me. 

I hadn't seen anything like them 
in years. 

The slimy, scaly beasts were 
slithering over the newspaper hold- 
ers, the ad card readers, the girl 

watchers as the neat little carbon- 
copy modern homes breezed past 
the windows. 

I ignored the devils and concen- 
trated on reading the withered, 
washed-out political posters on the 
telephone poles. My neck ached 
from holding it so stiff, staring out 
through the glass. More than that, 
I could feel the jabber wocks star- 
ing at me. You know how it is. You 
can feel a stare with the back of 
your neck and between your eyes. 
They got one brush of a gaze out 
of me. 

The things abruptly started their 
business, trying to act casually as if 
they hadn't been waiting for me to 
look at them at all. They had a 



little human being of some sort. 
It was the size of a small boy, 

like the small boy who looked like 
me that they used to destroy when 
I was locked up with them in the 
dark. Except this was a man, scaled 
down to child's size. He had sort of 

an ugly, worried, tired, stupid look 
and he wore a shiny suit with a 
piece of a welcome mat or some- 
thing for a necktie. Yeah, it was 
me. I really knew it all the time. 

They began doing things to the 
midget me. I didn't even lift an 
eyebrow. They couldn't do any- 
thing worse to the small man than 
they had done to the young boy. It 
was sort of nostalgic watching them, 
but I really got bored with all that 
violence and killing and killing the 
same kill over and over. Like 
watching the Saturday night string 
of westerns in a bar. 

The sunlight through the window 
was yellow and hot. After a time, I 
began to dose. 

The shrieks woke me up. 

For the first time, I could hear 
the shrieks of the monster's victim 
and listen to their obscene drool- 
ings. For the very first time in my 
life. Always before it had been all 
pantomime, like Charlie Chaplin. 
Now I heard the sounds of. it all. 

They say it's a bad sign when 
you start hearing voices. 

I nearly panicked, but I held 
myself in the seat and forced my- 
self to be rational about it. My own 
voice was always saying things 

everybody could hear but which 
I didn't say. It wasn't any worse to 
be the only one who could hear 
other things I never said. I was as 
sane as I ever was. There was no 
doubt about that. 

But a new thought suddenly im- 
pressed itself on me. 

Whatever was punishing me for 
my sin was determined that I turn 
back before reaching 1467 Clare- 

^PLRMNT," the driver an- 

^ nounced, sending the doors 

hissing open and the bus cranking 

to a stop. 

I walked through the gibbering 

monsters, and passing the driver's 

seat, I heard my voice say, "Don't 

splatter me by starting up too soon, 

fat gut." 

The driver looked at me with 
round eyes. "No, sir, I won't." 

The monsters gave it up and 
stopped existing. 

The bus didn't start until I was 
halfway up the block of sandine 
moderns and desk-size patios. 

Number 1423 was different from 
the other houses. It was on fire. 

One of the most beautiful women 
I've ever seen came running up to 
me. What black hair, what red lips, 
what sparkling eyes she had when 
I finally got up that far! "Sir," she 
said, "my baby brother is in there. 
I'd be so grateful—" ' 

I grabbed for her. My hand went 
right on through. I didn't try grab- 





bing her again. This time, I had a 
feeling I would feel her. I didn't 
want to be that bad off. 

I walked on, ignoring the flames 
shooting out of 1423. 

As I reached the patio of 1467, 
the flames stopped. It was a 
queer kind of break. No fadeout, 
just a stoppage. I took a step back- 
ward. No flames this time, but the 
very worst and very biggest mon- 
ster of them all. Coming suddenly 
like that, it got to my spine and 
stomach, even though I was pretty 
used to them. I stepped away from 
it and it was gone. 

Number 1467 was different 
from the other houses, and it wasn't 
even on fire. It was on two lots, and 
it had two picture windows, but 
only one little porch and front door. 
I guess even the well-to-do have a 
hard time finding big houses and 
good building sites and the right 
neighborhood. The trouble is so 
many people are well-to-do and 
there just aren't enough old manses 
to go around. 

I strolled up the stucco path and 

lifted the wrought-iron knocker, 
which rang a bell. 

The door opened and there was 
a girl there. She wasn't much com- 
pared to the one I put my hand 
through. But she was all right- 
brown hair, a nice face underneath 
the current shades of cosmetics, 

no figure for a stripper, but it would 

"You the maid?" I inquired. 

"I am Miss Tompkins," she said. 
"Oh. Any relation to Harold J. 


"My father. He died last year." 
"Can I see your mother?" 
"Mother died a few months after 

Daddy did." 

"You'll do then." 

I stepped inside. Miss Tompkins 
seemed too surprised to protest. 

"I'm William Hagle," I said. "I 
want to help you." 

"Mr. Hagle, whatever it is — 



"Thaf s not it exactly," I told her. 
"I just want to help you. I only 
want to do whatever you want me 

to do." 

She stared at me, her eyes mov- 
ing too quickly over my face. "I've 

never even seen you before, have 
I? Why do you want to help me? 

"What's so damned hard to un- 
derstand? I just want to help. I 
don't have any money, but I can 
work and give you my pay. You* 
want me to clean up the basement, 
tbp wrc*? Got any painting to be 
done? Hell, I can even sew. Any- 
thing — don't you understand — I'll 
do anything for you." 

THE girl was breathing too hard 
now. "Mr. Hagle, if you're 
hungry, I can find something — no, 
I don't think there is anything. But 
I can give you some money to — " 
"Damn it, I don't want your 
money! Here, I'll give you mine!" I 



wadded up the $6.38 cents I had 
left, plus one bus transfer, and put 
it on the top of a little bookcase 
next to the door. "I know it doesn't 
mean anything to you, but it's 
every penny I've got. Can't I do 
anything for you? Empty the gar- 

"We have a disposal," she said 

"Scrub the floors." 

"There's a polisher in the closet." 

"Make the beds!" I yelled. "You 

don't have a machine for that, do 


The corners of Miss Tompkins' 
eyes drew up and the corners of her 
mouth drew down. She stayed like 
that for a full second, then smiled a 
strange smile. "You — you saw me 
on the street." She was breathing 
her words now, so softly that I 
could only just understand them. 
"You thought I was - stacked." 

"To tell the truth, ma'am, you 
aren't so—" 

"Well, sit down. Don't go away. 
I'll just go into the next room — slip 
into something comfortable—" 

"Miss Tompkins!" I grabbed 
hold of her. She felt real. I hoped 
she was. "I want nothing from you. 
Nothing! I only want to do some- 
thing for you, anything for you. 
I've got to help you, can't you un- 
derstand? I KILLED YOUR 

I hadn't meant to tell her that, 
of course. 

ing and clawing the way I knew 
she would as soon as I said it. But 
she stopped, stunned, as if I'd 
slapped her out of hysterics, only 
I'd never let go of her shoulders. 

She hung then, her face empty, 
repeating, "What? What?" 

Finally she began laughing and 
she pulled away from me so gently 
and naturally that I had to let go. 
She sank down and sat on top of 
my money on the little bookcase. 
She laughed some more into her 
two open hands. 

I stood there, not knowing what 
to do with myself. 

She looked up at me and 
brushed away a few tears with her 
fingertips. "You want to get me off 
of your conscience, do you, Wil- 
liam Hagle? God, that's a good 
one." She reached out and took my 
hand in hers. "Come along down 
into the basement, William. I want 
to show you something. Afterward, 
if you want to — if you really want 
to — you may kill me." 

"Thanks," I said. 

I couldn't think of anything else 
to say. 

I ^OWN in the basement, the ma- 
-*-^ chinery looked complex, with 
all sorts of thermostats and speed- 

"Automatic stoker?" I asked. 

"Time machine," she said. 

"You don't mean a time machine 
like H. G. Wells's," I said, to show 

She screamed and began twist- her I wasn't ignorant. 



"Not exactly like that, but close," 
she answered sadly. "This has been 
the cause of all your trouble, Wil- 

"It has?" 

"Yes. This house and the ground 
around it are the Primary Focus 
area for the Hexers. The Hexers 
have tormented and persecuted 
you all your life. They got you 
into trouble. They made you think 
you were going crazy—" 

"I never thought I was going 
crazy!" I yelled at her. 

"That must have made it worse," 
she said miserably. 

I thought about it. "I suppose it 
did. What are the Hexers? What — 
for the sake of argument — have 
they got against me?" 

"The Hexers aren't human. I 
suppose they are extraterrestrials. 
No one ever told me. Maybe they 
are a kind of human strain that 
went different. I don't really know. 
They want different things than we 
do, but they can buy some of them 
with money, so they can be hired. 
People in the future hire them to 
hex people in the past." 

"Why would anybody up ahead 
there with Buck Rogers want to 
cause me trouble? I'm dead then, 
aren't I?" 

"Yes, you must be. It's a long 
time into the future. But, you see, 
some of my relatives there want 
to punish you for — it must be for 
killing Father. They lost out on a 
chain of inheritance because he 


died When he did. They have 
money now, but they are bitter 
because they had to make it them- 
selves. They can afford every 
luxury — even the luxury of 


I suppose when you keep seeing 



monsters and hearing yourself say 
things you didn't say, you can be- 
lieve unusual things easier. I 
believed Miss Tompkins. 

"It was not murder," I said. "I 
killed him by accident." 

"No matter. They would hex you 

if you had hit him with a car in a 
fog or given him the flu by sneez- 
ing in his face. I understand people 
are hexed all the time for things 
they never even knew they did. 
People up there have a lot of leis- 
ure, a lot of time to indulge their 



every irritation or hate. I think it 
must be decadent, the way Rome 



"What do you— and the machine 
—have to do with my hex?" I asked. 

"This is the Primary Focus area, 
I told you. It's how the Hexers get 
into this time hypothesis. They 
can't get back into this Primary 
itself, but they can come and go 
through the outer boundary. It's 
hard to set up a Primary Focus — 
takes a tremendous drain of power. 
They broke through into the base- 
ment of the old house before I was 
born and Daddy was the first cus- 
todian of the machine. He never 
knew that he was helping avenge 
his own death. They let that slip 
later, after — it happened." 

"Why did they come to you? 
Why did you help them?" 

She turned half away. "The cus- 
todian is well paid. My relatives 
preferred the salary to go to some- 
one in the family, instead of an 
outsider. Daddy accepted the offer 
and I've carried on the job." 

"Paid? You were paid?" 

She brushed at her eyes. "Oh, 
not in United States currency. But 
— Daddy got to be president of the 
store. It was set up so he could 
make a fortune that they could in- 
herit. All he left was his insurance, 
and that went to mother. She died 
a few months later and some of it 
went to me and the rest to her 

"You mean my life has been like 

it has because some descendants of 
yours in the future hate me for an 
accident that deprived them of 
some money?" 

^HE nodded enthusiastically. 
^ "You understand! And because 
I helped the Hexers they hired get 
to you. I was afraid you wouldn't 
believe me. Now" — she stopped 
to exhale — "do you want to kill 

"No, I don't want to kill you." I 
walked over and squinted at the 
machine. "Could / get into the fu- 
ture with this thing?" 

"I don't know how you work the 
outer boundary. I think you need 
something else. There's an internal 
energy contact — you can talk to 
Communications" She raced 
through that. "You want to kill 
them, don't you? The Hexers and 
my relatives?" 

"I don't want to kill anybody," 
I told her patiently. "I feel dirty 
just hearing how far some people 
can go for revenge. I just want 
them to let me alone. Why don't 
they kill me and get it over with?" 

"They haven't a license to kill. 
Not yet. There's legislation going 


"Listen," I said, listening to the 
idea coming into my head, "listen. 
These descendants of your moth- 
er's relatives — they did inherit 
money because your father died. 
Maybe they feel grateful to me. 
Maybe they would help me. Would 



you help me try to talk to them?" 

"Yes," Miss Tompkins said, and 
she used a dial on the machine. 

It was as simple as putting 
through a phone call. 

"We really understand your sit- 
uation," Mr. Grimes-Tompkins 
said. "But it would take quite a 
bit to buy off the Hexers. How- 
ever, we certainly appreciate the 
killing you made for us." 

"Couldn't you buy off the Hex- 
ers, then, with some of the money 
I brought to your side of the fam- 
ily?" I asked. 

"We don't appreciate it that 

"What? You aren't going to pay 
him back for killing my father?" 
Miss Tompkins cried, outraged. 

"Look," I said, "if you had some 
money of mine, would you pay off 
the Hexers for me? You do still 
use money up there, don't you?" 

"We certainly do, young man. 
Just what did you have in mind?" 

"If I gave you authorization now 
to use any assets I have in your 
time, would it be legal?" 

"Declarations by temporal trans- 
mission? Yes, of course. Routine 

"Take any money I have and 
use it to pay off the Hexers. Will 
you do it?" 

"I don't see why not, since our 
ancestor seems to approve." 

Miss Tompkins regarded me 
solemnly. "What do you intend to 
do, William?" 

"Banks are out," I said, think- 
ing hard. "They don't let inactive 
accounts go on drawing interest 
more than twenty years, or some- 
thing like that. But government 

bonds don't have to be converted 
when they mature. One bond can 
pile up a fantastic amount of inter- 
est for them to collect." 

"You have government bonds, 

"Not yet." 

Miss Tompkins stood close to 
me. "I have plenty of money, Wil- 
liam. I'll give it to you. You can 
buy bonds in my name." 

"No. I'll get my own money." 

"Shall I destroy the machine, 
William? Of course they'll only 
open another Focus—" 

"No, you would just get your- 
self hexed too." 

"What can I do, William?" she 
asked. "All along, ever since I was 
a little girl, I've known I've been 
helping to torture somebody. I 
didn't even know your name, Wil- 
liam, but I helped torture you—" 

"Because I killed your father." 

"—and I've got to make it up to 
you. I'll give you everything, Wil- 
lian, everything." 

"Sure," I said, "to take me off 
your conscience. And if I take your 
offer and you get hexed, what hap- 
pens to my conscience? Do we go 
around again — me working my tail 
off to raise the dough to get you 
unhexed, and you buying the Hex- 
ers off me? Where would it stop? 



We're even right now. Let's let it 

go at that." 

"But, William, if we've taken, 
now we can give to each other." 

She looked almost pretty then, 
and I wanted her the way I'd al- 
ways wanted women. But I knew 
better. She wasn't going to get me 
into any trouble. 

"No, thanks. Good-by." 

I walked away from her. 

For the first time, I could see 
what my life would be like if I 
wasn't hexed. Now I could realize 
that I knew how to do things right 
if I was only let alone. 

HP HE intern took the blood 
-*• smear. He reeled off a long 
string of questions about diseases I 
wasn't allowed to have. 

"No," I said, "and I haven't given 
blood in the last thirty days." 

He took my sample of blood and 

I had to have eighteen dollars 
and seventy-five cents. They paid 
you twenty dollars a pint for blood 

One government bond held for 
centuries would pile up a fortune 
in interest. The smallest bond you 
can buy is twenty-five dollars face 
value, and it costs eighteen seven- 

If I had kept that twenty, I 
would have had a buck and a quar- 
ter change. But if I hadn't have 
gotten cleaned up, the hospital 
might not have accepted me as a 


donor at all. They had had some 

bad experiences from old bums dy- 
ing from giving too often. 

I only hoped I could force my- 
self to let that bond go uncashed 
through the rest of my life. 

The intern returned, his small 
mustache now pointing down. "Mr. 
Hagle, I have some bad news for 
you. Very bad. I hardly know how 
to tell you, but — you've got 

I nodded. "That means you 
won't take my blood." Maybe it 
also meant that I would never be 
allowed to have eighteen dollars 
and seventy-five cents in one lump 
again as long as I lived. 

"No," the intern finally managed. 
"We can't accept your blood 

I waved him off. "Isn't there 
some fund to take care of lukemia 
victims? Feed them, house them, 
send them to Florida to soak up the 

"Certainly there is such a fund, 
and you may apply, Mr. Hagle." 

"I'd certainly benefit a lot from 
that fund. Doctor, humor me. Test 
me again and see if I still have 

He did. I didn't. 

"I don't understand this," the 
intern said, looking frightened. 
"Transitory lukemia? It must be 
a lab error." 

"Will you buy my blood now?" 

"I'm afraid as long as there is 
some doubt — this must be some- 
thing new." 




"I suppose it is,* I told him. "I 
have all sorts of interesting symp- 

"You do?" The intern was vital- 
ly interested. "Feel free to tell me 
all about them." 

"I see and hear things." 


"Do you believe in ESP?" 

"IVe sometimes wondered." 

"Test me as much as you like. 
You'll find that in any game of 
chance, I score consistently far be- 
low the level of wins I should get 
by the law of averages. I'm psioni- 
cally subnormal. And that's just the 

"This must be really new," the 
intern said, eyes shining. 

"It is," I assured him. "And lis- 
ten, Doctor, you don't want to turn 
something like me over to your 
superiors, to leave me to the mer- 
cies of the A.M.A. This can be big, 
Doctor, big." 

^HEY offered Hagle's Disease 
■■■ to a lot of comedians, but final- 


ly it was the new guy, Biff Kelsey, 
that got it and made it his own. He 
did a thirty-hour telethon for 
Hagle's Disease. 

Things really started to roll 
then. Boston coughed up three hun- 
dred thousand alone. The most 
touching contribution came from 

I plugged away on the employ- 
the-physically-handicapped theme 
and was made president of the 

Foundation for the Treatment of 
Hagle's Disease. Dr. Wise (the in- 
tern ) was the director. 

So far, I had been living soft at 
Cedars, but I hadn't got my hands 
on one red cent. I wanted to get 
that government bond to buy off 
the Hexers, but at the same time 
it no longer seemed so urgent. 
They seemed to have given up, 
and were just sitting back waiting 
for their bribe. 

One morning three months later, 
Doc Wise came worriedly into my 
room at the hospital. 

"I don't like these reports, Wil- 
liam," he said. "They all say there's 
nothing wrong with you." 

"It comes and it goes," I said 
casually. "You saw some of the 

times when it came." 

"Yes, but I'm having trouble 
convincing the trustees you weren't 
malingering. And, contrary to our 
expectations, no one else in the 
country seems to have developed 
Hagle's Disease." 

"Stop worrying, Doc. Read the 
Foundation's charter. You have to 
treat Hagle's Disease, which means 
you can use that money to treat 
any disease of mine while we draw 
our salaries. I must have something 
wrong with me." 

Wise shook his head. "Nothing. 
Not even dandruff or B.O. You are 
the healthiest man I have ever 
examined. If s unnatural." 

Six months afterward, I had 
been walking all night in the park, 



in the rain. I hadn't had anything 
to eat recently and I had fever and 
I began sneezing. The money was 
still in the bank — no, not in my 
name — I couldn't touch it; Miss 
Tompkins* descendants couldn't 
touch it — just waiting for me to — 
I started running toward the 


I slammed my fists against 
Wise's door. "Obed up, Wise. Id's 
be, Hagle. I god a cold. Thafs a 
disease, is'd it?" 

Wise threw back the door. "What 
did you say?" 

"I said 'Open up, Wise. If s me, 
Hagle. I've got a cold' . . . Never 
mind, Wise, never mind." 

UT you don't want to hear 
about all that. You want to 
know about what happened in the 
relief office. There's not much to 

I picked up the check from the 

guy's desk and looked at it. Nine 
fifty-seven to buy food for two 
weeks. I griped that it wasn't 
enough — not enough to keep alive 
on and save eighteen seventy-five 
clear in a lifetime. 

The slob at the desk said, "What 
have you got to complain about? 
You got your health, don't you?" 

That's when I slugged him and 
smashed up the relief office, and 
thafs why the four cops dragged 
me here, and thafs why I'm lying 
here on your couch telling you this 
story, Dr. Schultz. 

I had my health, sure, biit I fi- 
nally figured out why. If you be- 
lieve any of this, youVe thinking 
that the Hexers must have laid off 
me, which is why I'm healthy. I 
thought so too, but how would that 
add up? 

Look, I tried every way I could 
to raise eighteen seventy-five to 
buy a government bond. I never 
made it. I never made it because 
I wasn't allowed to. 

But I didn't know it because I'd 
been euchred into the Foundation 
for the Treatment of Hagle's Dis- 
ease. Hundreds of thousands of 
dollars, all earmarked for one pur- 
pose only — treating my disease — 
and I haven't got any! 

Or maybe you're figuring the 
way I did, that senility is a disease, 
and all I have to do is wait for it 
to creep up on me so I can get some 
of that Foundation money. But the 
Hexers have that fixed too, I'll bet. 
I'm not sure, but I think I'm going 
to live for centuries without a sick 
day in my life. In other words, I'm 
going to live that life out as poor 

as I am right now! 

If s a fantastic story, Doctor, but 
you believe me, don't you? You do 
believe every word of it You have 
to, Doctor! 

Because a persecution complex 
is kind of a disease and I'd have to 
be treated for it. 

Now will you let me out of this 
jacket so I can smoke a cigarette? 





After the snow job this guy 

handed us, what else should 

we give him but the freeze? 

Illustrated by WOOD 

TANDY said: "Not tonight, 
Howard. Why, I'm practi- 
cally in bed already. See?" 
And she flipped the vision switch 
just for a second, long enough so 
I could get a glimpse of a sheer 
negligee and feathered slippers 
and, well, naturally, I couldn't 
quite believe that she really 
wanted me to stay away. Nobody 
had made her flip that switch. 
I said: "Just for a minute, Tan- 


dy. One drink. A little music, may- 
be just one dance— " 

"Howard, you're terrible/' 
"No, dearest," I said, fast and 
soft and close to the phone, "I'm 
not terrible, I'm only very much 
in love. Don't say no. Don't say 
a word. Just close your eyes, and 
in ten minutes I'll be there, and—" 
And then, confound them, they 
had to start that yapping. Bleep- 
bleep on the phone, and then: 


"Attention all citizens! Stand by 
for orders! Your World Federal 
Government has proclaimed a 
state of unlimited emergency. All 
heatpump power generators in ex- 
cess of eight horsepower per—" 

I slammed down the phone in 
disgust. The lousy Feds! Yack- 
yack on the phone lines at all 
hours of the day and night, no 
consideration for anybody. I was 
disgusted, and then, when I got to 
thinking, not so disgusted. Why 
not go right over? She hadn't said 
no; she hadn't had a chance. 

So I got the Bug out, locked the 
doors and set the thermostats, and 
I set out. 

TT isn't two miles to Tandy's 
-■■ place. Five years ago, even, 
I could make it in three or four 
minutes; now it takes ten. I call 
it a damned shame, though no one 
else seems to care. But I've always 
been more adventurous than most, 
and more social-minded. 

Jeffrey Otis wouldn't care about 
things like that. Ittel du Bois 
wouldn't even know — his idea is 
to bury his nose in a drama-tape 
when he goes out of the house, let 
the Bug drive itself. 

But not me. I like to drive, even 
if you can't see anything and the 
autopilot is perfectly reliable. Life 
is for living, I say. Live it. 

I don't pretend to understand 
this scientific stuff either — leave 
science to the people who like it 

is another thing I say. But you 
know how when you're in your 
Bug and you've set the direc- 
tion-finder for somebody's place, 
there's this beepbeepbeepbeep 
when you're going right and a 
beepSQUAWK or a SQUAWK- 
beep when you go off the track? 
It has something to do with radio, 
only not radio — that's out of the 
question now, they say — but with 
sort of telephoned messages 
through the magma of the Earth's 
core. Well, that's what it says in 
the manual, and I know because 
one day I glanced through it. 

Anyway. Excuse me for getting 
technical. But I was going along 
toward Tandy's place, my mind 
full of warm pleasures and antici- 
pating, and suddenly the beep- 
beepbeep stopped and there was a 
sort of crystal chime and then a 
voice: "Attention! Operation of 
private vehicles is forbidden! Re- 
turn to your home and listen to 
telephoned orders every hour on 
the hour!" And then the beepbeep- 
beep again. Why, they'd even 
learned how to jam the direction- 
finder with their confounded yap- 

It was very annoying and an- 
grily I snapped the DF off. Dar- 
ing? Yes, but I have to say that 
I'm an excellent driver, wonder- 
ful sense of direction, hardly need 
the direction-finder in the first 
place. And anyway we were close; 
the thermal pointers in the nose 





had already picked up Tandy's 

temperature gradient 

Tandy opened the locks her- 
self. "Howard," she said in soft 
surprise, clutching the black film 
of negligee. "You really came. Oh, 
naughty Howard!" 

"My darling!" I breathed, reach- 
ing out for her. But she dodged. 

"No, Howard," she said severely, 
"you mustn't do that. Sit down 
for a moment. Have one little 
drink. And then I'm going to have 
to be terribly stubborn' and send 
you right home, dear." 

"Of course," I said, because that 
was, after all, the rules of the 
game. "Just one drink, certainly." 

UT, damn it, she seemed to 
mean it! She wasn't a bit hos- 
pitable — I mean not really hos- 
pitable. She seemed friendly 
enough and she talked sweetly 
enough, but- 
Well, for example, she sat in 
the positively-not chair. 

I can tell you a lot about the 
way Tandy furnished her place. 
There's the wing chair by the fire, 
and thaf s a bad sign because the 
arms are slippery and there's only 
room -for one actually sitting in 
it. There's the love seat — speaks 
for itself, doesn't it? And there's 
the big sofa and, best of all, the 
bearskin rug. But way at the other 
end of the scale is this perfectly 
straight armless cane-bottomed 
thing, with a Ming vase on one 

side of it and a shrub of some kind 
or other rooted in a bowl on the 
other, and that's where she sat. 

I grumbled: "I shouldn't have 
come at all." 

"What, Howard?" 

"I said, uh, *I couldn't come any, 
uh, faster.' I mean I came as fast 

as I could." 

"I know you did, you brute," 
she said roguishly, and stopped the 

It poured us each a drink. 

"Now don't dawdle," she said 
primly. "I've got to get some sleep." 

"To love," I said, and sipped the 
top off the Martini. 

"Don't do that," she warned. 

I got up from the floor at her 
feet and went back to another 

"You," she said, "are a hard man 
to handle, Howard dear." But she 

Well, you can't win them all. 
I finished my drink and figured 
I would hang around about five 
minutes just to show who was boss 
and then get back in the Bug and 
go home. It had been a wearing 
day, hours and hours with the or- 
chids, and then listening to all 
nine Beethoven symphonies in a 
row while I had played solitaire. 
Frankly, I was a little sleepy after 
a day like that and home was 
where I wanted to be just then. 


But I heard the annunciator bell 

I stared at Tandy. 



"My," she said prettily, "I won- 
der who that can be?" 


She shrugged. "Probably some- 
one dull. I won't answer. Now do 

be a good boy and—" 

"Tandy! How could you?" My 
mind raced; there was only one 
conclusion. "Tandy, do you have 
Ittel du Bois coming here tonight? 
Don't lie to me!" 

"Howard, what a terrible thing 
to say. Ittel was last year." 

"Tell me the truth!" 

"I told you the truth!" 

And she was angry. I'd hurt 
her, no doubt of it. 

"Then it must be Jeffrey. I 
won't stand for it I won the toss 
fair and square. Why can't he wait 
until next year? It isn't decent I—" 

She stood up, her blue eyes 
smoldering. "Howard McGuiness, 
you'd better go before you say 
something I couldn't forgive." 

I stood my ground. "Then who 
is it?" 

"Oh, darn it!" she said, and 
kicked viciously at the shrub by 
her left foot. "See for yourself! An- 
swer the door." 

O I did. Now I know Ittel du 
Bois's Bug and I know Jeff 
Otis's. It wasn't either one of them. 
The vehicle outside Tandy's door 
parked next to mine was a very 
strange-looking Bug indeed. For 
one thing, it was only about eight 
feet long. 

A bank of infra-red lamps 
glowed on it, bathing it in heat. 
The caked ice that forms in the 
dead spots along the hull, behind 
the treads and so on melted, 
plopped off, turned into water and 
ran into the drain grille. You know 
how a Bug will crack and twang 
when it's being warmed up? They 

all do. 

This one didn't. 

It didn't make a sound. It was 
so silent that I could hear the 
snip-snip of Tandy's automatic 
load adjuster, throwing another 
heatpump into circuit to meet the 
drain of the infra-red lamps. But 
no sound from the Bug outside. 
Also it didn't have caterpillar 
treads. Also it had — well, you can 
believe this or not — it had win- 

"You see?" said Tandy, in a 
voice colder than the black sky 
full of. stars overhead. "Now would 
you like to apologize to me?" 

"I apologize," I said in a voice 
that hardly got past my lips. "I—" 
I stopped and swallowed. I begged, 
"Please, Tandy, what is it?" 

She lit a cigarette unsteadily. 
"Well, I don't rightly know. I'm 
kind of glad you're here, Howard," 
she confessed. "Maybe I shouldn't 
have tried to get rid of you." 

"Tell me!" 

She glanced at the Bug. "All 
right. I'll make it fast. I got a call 
from this, uh, fellow. I couldn't un- 
derstand him very well. But—" 



She looked at me sidewise. 

"I get it," I said. "You thought 
he might be a mark." 

She nodded. 

"And you wouldn't cut me in!" 
I cried angrily. "Tandy, that's 
downright mean! When I found 
old Buchmayr dead, didn't I cut 
you in on looting his place? Didn't 
I give you first pick of everything 

you wanted — except heatpumps 
and machine patterns, of course?" 

"I know, dear," she said miser- 
ably, "but — hush! He's coming 

She was looking out the win- 
dow. I looked too. 

And then we looked at each 
other. That fellow out of the 
strange Bug, he was as strange as 
his vehicle. He might be a mark 
or he might not, but of one thing 
I was pretty sure — he had huge 
white eyes and a serpentine frill of 
orange tendrils instead of hair. 

At once all my lethargy and 

weariness vanished. 

"Tandy," I cried, "he isn't hu- 

"I know," she whispered. 

"But don't you know what this 
means? He's an alien! He must 
come from another planet- — per- 
haps from another star. Tandy, 
this is the most important thing 
that ever happened to us." 

I thought fast. 

"Tell you what," I said. "You let 
him in while I get around the side 
shaft — it's defrosted." 

I hurried. At the side door, I 
stopped and looked at her affec- 

"Dear Tandy," I said. "And you 
thought this was just an ordinary 
mark. You see? You need me." 

And I was off, leaving her that 
thought to chew on as she wel- 
comed her visitor. 

I TOOK a good long time in the 
■■■ stranger's Bug. Whether he was 
a human or a monster, I could rely 
on Tandy to keep him occupied, 
so I was very thorough, and didn't 
rush, and came out with a splen- 
did supply of what seemed to be 
storage batteries. I couldn't quite 
make them out, but I was sure 
that power was in them somehow 
or other, and if there was power, 
the heatpump would find a way 
to suck it out Those I took the 
opportunity of tucking away in 
my own Bug before I went back 
in Tandy's place. No use bother- 
ing her about them. 

She was sitting in the wing chair 
and the stranger was nowhere in 
sight. I raised my brows. She 

"Well," I said, "he was your 
guest. I won't interfere." 

Tandy was looking quiet, re- 
laxed and happy. "What about the 

"Oh, lots of things," I said. 
"Plenty of metal! And food — a lot 
of food, Tandy. Of course, we'll 
have to go easy on it, till we find 



out if we can digest it, but it smells 
delicious. And—" 

"Pumps?" she demanded. 

"Funny," I said. "They don't 
seem to use them." She scowled. 
"Honestly, dearest! You can see 
for yourself — everything I found 
is piled right outside the door." 

"What isn't in your Bug, you 


She glowered a moment longer, 
then smiled like the Sun bursting 
through clouds on an old video 
tape. "No matter, Howard," she 
said tenderly, "we've got plenty. 
Let's have another Martini." 

"Of course." I waited and took 
the glass. "To love," I toasted. 
"And to crime. By the way, did 
you talk to him first?" 

"Talk to him?" she said crossly. 
"Yap, yap, on and on. He was as 
bad as the Feds." 

I got up and idly walked across 
the room to the light switch. "Did 
he say anything interesting?" 

"Not very. He spoke a terribly 
poor grade of English, to begin 
with. Said he learned it off old 
radio broadcasts, of all things. 
They float around forever out in 
space, it seems." 

I switched off the lights. "That 

She nodded drowsily, got up to 
refill her glass, and sat down again 
in the love seat. "He was awfully 
interested in the heatpumps," she 

I put a tape on the player — 
Tschaikowsky. Tandy is a fool for 
violins. "He liked them?" 

"Oh, in a way. He thought they 
were clever. But dangerous, he 

"Him and the Feds." I sat down 
next to her. Click-click and our 
individual body armor went on 
standby alert. At the first hostile 
move, it would block us off, set up 
a force field — well, I think if s 
called a force field. "The Feds are 
always yapping about the pumps 
too. Did I tell you? They're even 
cutting in on the RDF channels." 

"Oh, Howard! Thaf s roo much." 
She sat up and got another drink 
and sat, this time, on the wide, 
low sofa. She giggled. 

"What's the matter, dear?" I 
asked, coming over beside her. 

"He was so funny. Ya-ta-ta-ta, 
ya-ta-ta-ta, all about how the heat- 
pumps were ruining the world." 

"Just like the Feds." 

/^LICK-CLICK some more, as 
^ I put my arm around her 

"Just like," she agreed. "He said 
it was evidently extremely high 
technology that produced a device 
that took heat out of its surround- 
ing ambient environment, but had 
we ever thought of what would 
happen when all the heat was 

"Crazy," I whispered into the 
base of her throat. 



"Absolutely. As though all the 
heat could ever be gone! Absolute 
zero, he called it — said we're only 
eight or ten degrees from it now. 
That's why the snow, he said." I 
made a sound of polite disgust 
"Yes, that's what he said. He said 
it wasn't just snow, it was frozen 
air — oxygen and nitrogen and all 
those things. We've frozen the 
Earth solid, he said, and now it's 
so shiny that its libido is nearly 

I sat up sharply, then relaxed. 
"Not libido, dear. Albedo. That 
means it's shiny." 

"Thaf s what he said. He said 
the Feds were right . . . Howard. 
Howard, dear. Listen to me." 

"Ssh," I murmured. "Did he say 
anything else?" 

"But Howard! Please! You're-" 


She relaxed, and then in a mo- 
ment giggled again. "Howard, wait. 
I forgot to tell you the funniest 

It was irritating, but I could af- 
ford to be patient. "What was that, 

"He didn't have any personal 

I sat up. I couldn't help it. 

"None at all! Unarmored as a 
baby. So that proves he isn't hu- 
man, doesn't it? I mean, if he 
can't take the simplest care of him- 
self, he's only a kind of animal, 

I thought. "Well, I suppose so," 

I said. 

"Good," she said, "because he's, 
well, in the freezer. I didn't want 
to waste him, Howard. And it isn't 
as if he was human." 

I thought for another second. 
Well, why not? You get tired of 
mushroom steaks, and since there 
hasn't been any open sky for pas- 
turing for centuries now, that's 
about all there is. Now that I 
thought back on it, he looked kind 
of plump and appetizing at that. 

And, in any case, that was a 
problem for later on. 

I reached out idly and touched 
the button that controlled the last 
light in the room, the electric fire- 
place itself. 

"Oh," I said, pausing. "Where 
did he come from?" 

"Sorry," her muffled voice came. 
"I forgot to ask." 

¥ REACHED out thoughtfully 
■■■ and found my glass. There was 
a little bit left; I drained it off. 
Funny that the creature should 
bother to come down. In the old 
days, yes, back when Earth was 
full of people, you might expect 
aliens to come rocketing down 
from the stars and all that. But 
he'd come all the way from — 
well, from wherever — and for 
what? Just to make a little soup 
for the pot, to donate a little metal 
and power. It was funny, in a 



I couldn't help thinking that the 
Feds would have liked to have 
met him. Not only because he 
agreed with them about the pumps 
and so on, but because they're 
interested in things like that. 
They're very earnest types— that's 
why they're issuing warnings and 
so on. Of course, nobody pays any 
Well, there was no sense bother- 

ing my brain about that sort of 
stuff, was there? If the heatpumps 
were dangerous, nobody would 
have bothered to invent them, 
would they? 

Of course not. 

I set down my glass and 

switched off the fireplace. Tandy 

was still and warm beside me, 

motionless but, believe me, by no 

means asleep. 







The lead story in the next issue may surprise us as much as you. As of 
even date, Robert Sheckley, whose ingenious "Prospector's Special" is on 
display in this issue, has promised a novella (no title yet) for the February 
issue (on sale toward the end of November, as previously explained, because 
the book must come off sale before the cover date or be yanked from the 
shelves by the newsdealers prematurely). The odds are better than good that 
the Sheckley novella will 1) be delivered on time, for Sheckley warms chilled 
editorial hearts by meeting his deadlines, and 2) will be a sparkler, for 
Sheckley lights glazed editorial eyes by making his themes work with fresh- 
ness and resourcefulness. 

On the other hand, Sheckley speeds through New York traffic on a motor 
scooter, is addicted to sailboats, the small kind that are the first to get storm 
warnings, which he buoyantly ignores, and has other lethal hobbies that keep 
taut editorial nerves jangling . . . 

As a safeguard, therefore, we are scheduling a long novelet by Frederik 
Pohl with this enchanting title: THE DAY THE ICICLE WORKS CLOSED. Sheckley 
yes or Sheckley no, this story will run, and it is about a plant that manufactures 
icicles, and for no capricious reason either, and what happens when the 
factory shuts down makes an entertaining, mind-prodding yarn. 

What happens to the rest of the issue is another story. The Sheckley and 
the Pohl might possibly jam out other novelets — but allow more shorts. Or if 
the Sheckley is delayed for one nervous reason or another, that would cut 
down shorts — but allow more novelets. 

Either way, it will be a good issue, especially in view of what Willy Ley 
has done with ONE PLANET — ONE LANGUAGE, and the numerous equally 
exciting sub-sections of his department, which incidentally includes a puzzle 
that ought to enliven as many living rooms as his noted Australian Shoe Size 
Riddle did, not long ago. 





ALAS, BABYLON by Pat Frank, areas — is open to fierce rebuttal 

J. B. Lippincott Co., Phila., $3.50 

POST-H-BOMB futures, once the 
ground of the SF author, has since 
been poached upon by mainstream 
authors like Cloete, Shute and now 
Frank. However, Frank also has 
a pre-H-Bomb novel under his belt, 
the excellent Forbidden Area. 

He lives in Central Florida, mak- 
ing foregone his choice of locale. 

Survival in that region, though 
hard, looks too easy. Also, his 
prime assumption — radiation and 
fallout are deadly only in or to the 
immediate windward of impact 

based on continuing investigation. 

As a post-Bomb Swiss Family 
Robinson-type adventure, the 
story is fine, but my impression 
is that Frank stopped too soon with 
too little. 

Rating: *** 


by Robert Sheckley. Avalon 
Books, N.Y., $2.75 

HAD SHECKLEY never written 
Time Killer, the deservedly popu- 
lar serial seen in these pages, the 
above novel would have created 
something of a stir. However, the 



plot changes engineered by the 
publisher have compelled Sheck- 
ley to divorce himself completely 
from the book. Motivations have 
been altered and even the roles 
played by the principle characters 
have been tampered with, so that 
the story is unrecognizable except 
in its broadest outlines. 

There is no doubt in my mind 
that Sheckley has a right to ob- 
ject: the yarn gained nothing and 
lost much in its metamorphosis. 
However, his superbly imaginative 
story of a society with a for-real 
Hereafter has far too much inter- 
nal brilliance to be dimmed com- 

Rating: *** 

STARSHIP by Brian Aldiss. Cri- 
terion Books, N.Y., $3.50 


prototype, Universe, set the pat- 
tern for interstellar stories in 
which several lifetimes are spent 
in travel. Destination is forgotten, 
superstition and myths prevail, 
and culture is subordinated to 

English author Aldiss's ship, 
homebound from Procyon V, is a 
derelict from some ancient catas- 
trophe, though automatic functions 
remain intact. Its survivors, 
banded into antagonistic tribes 
and hunting their food in hydro- 
ponic jungles that choke the pas- 
sageways, remind one of C. R. 

Tanner's Tumithak oi the Corri- 
dors of many years past. 

The shock ending, though suffi- 
ciently clued, is abrupt and leaves 
so much unanswered that it must 
lose a full star in rating. A pity- 
it has a good deal else to add in 
exploring this highly provocative 


Rating: ***y 2 

LOST IN SPACE by George O. 
Smith. Avalon Books, N.Y., $2.75 

PLOT-WISE and dialogue-wise, 
Smith's 1954 opus is buffed to a 
high luster. Action flows easily and 
scenes change three ways with- 
out hitch or jerk from the derelict 

lifeboat with its three maroonees, 
to the space fleet of 250 vessels 
engaged in systematic search for 
the above, to the flagship of an 
overwhelmingly superior alien 
battle fleet. 

The aliens, about to make their 
first contact with Earth culture, 
are secretly observing the rescue 
operation, with belligerence or 
peace in the balance, based on 
their assay of humanity. 

A topnotch space opera — right 
up to the final half-dozen pages, at 
which point Smith and logic part 

Rating: *** 

Silverberg. Gnome Press, N.Y., 

• • • • * SHELF 


called his book / Was A Three- 
Hundred- Year-Old Teenager, for 
this paradox is the basis of Alan 
Donnell's quest: due to the vaga- 
ries of the Fitzgerald Contraction, 
spacers are pariahs, hated for their 
seeming longevity. They are re- 
stricted to ghettoes by the over- 
crowded planet dwellers during 
their infrequent planet-falls, and 
subject to lifelong tedium and rou- 
tine in space. 

A faster-than-light drive is an 
obvious must for interstellar travel 
if an even deeper schism is to be 

avoided. Donnell's quest leads him 
to jump ship in an attempt to re- 
discover the invention of a man a 
millenium dead. Exciting story in- 
gredients abound, but too many 
happenstances and line-of-least-re- 
sistance writing steal too much of 
its effectiveness. 
Rating: *** 

ter del Rey. Avalon Books, N.Y., 

NORSE SAGAS are almost uni- 
formly abrim with doom. With such 
working material, writing a light 
fantasy is a tough chore. Seeming- 
ly aware of this, del Rey plunges 
through his story in lickety-split 
fashion — let gods and giants alike 
fall where they may. 

His yarn concerns Ragnarok, 
the twilight of the gods, with gods 

and giants fated to join final com- 
bat with Earth as prize. To help 
swing the balance, Yankee twins 
of Norse descent are transported 
to the abode of the gods, Asgard, 
to augment their puny magic with 
modern technology. 
Rating: ** 

by George O. Smith. Gnome Press, 
Hicksville, N.Y., $3.00 

SINCE A LOT of salt does not 
taste better than enough salt, it 
also follows that expanding Smith's 
idea from a novelet does not, per 
se, increase its interest. This is a 
story that Smith evidently had a 
lot .-of fun writing but that the 
reader will find more difficult to 
enjoy. The struggle of the physi- 
cist hero, barely returned from the 
brink of insanity, to convince his 
psychiatrist that Earth is suffer- 
ing under alien rule, is truly frus- 

The reader is kept constant- 
ly guessing, but much of Smith's 
evidence and clues are so unfair 
that he engenders a suspension of 
willing belief. Too bad — Smith 
was within hailing distance of a 
good yarn, comparable to his High- 
ways in Hiding. 

Rating: ** 

derson. Avalon Books, N.Y., $2.75 




light-hearted farce, Virgin Planet 
belies its initial interest and winds 
up taking its theme quite serious- 
ly. The idea of a solitary male ex- 
plorer landing on a true virgin 
planet of true virgin human fe- 
males, cast away for three hun- 
dred years, promises some pretty 
obvious fun. Anderson has it — as 
well as going into the hows and 

Rating: *** 

(All books in the Avalon SF 
series have plastic dust jackets- 
excellent and practical book sav- 

ers. ) 

Alan E. Nowse. David McKay 
Co., Inc., N.Y., 2.75 

DR. NOURSE'S juvenile is in the 
very best tradition of youthful sci- 
ence adventure. The action is plen- 
tiful and quick-paced, the dialogue 
authentic; the science unobtrusive 
but well grounded; black is jet and 
white is alabaster. 

While mining in the Asteroid 
Belt, an ex-employee of a ruthless 
giant mining corporation has evi- 
dently struck a bonanza and been 
murdered, non-evidently, by com- 
pany agents. The secret of the 
strike's location dies with him, 
though, and his twin sons and 
former partner rocket into the 
Belt for the dual purposes of re- 
venge and re-discovery of the 

claim. The nature of the find and 
its secret location are equal sur- 

Rating, for youngsters : **** 

GY by C. W. Ceram. Alfred A. 
Knopf, N.Y., $15.00 

book is as important an archeo- 
logical find as any that fill its 

Written by the author of the 
fantastically successful Gods, 
Graves & Scholars, it contains 
much material from the former, 
but differs entirely in its uncom- 
plicated approach to the science 
— as well as overflowing with 
some of the most enthralling 
photos and reproductions to be 
seen between covers. 

SAND SUNS by Robert Jungk. 
Harcourt, Brace & Co.,N.Y., $5.00 

SUBTITLED a personal history 
of the atomic scientists, this is 
more than that. Difficult reading 
at times, it still is most reward- 
ing to the student of recent atomic 
history, even though this true ma- 
terial reads almost like fiction. 

Andrija Puharich. Doubleday & 
Co., Inc., N.Y^ $4.50 

WHILE ENGAGED in psi re- 

• • • • • SHELF 


search, Dr. Puharich encountered 
the myth of the sacred mushroom, 
purportedly used by the ancient 
Egyptians and others to send 
the mind through time and space. 
Dr. Puharich's deductions from 
information supplied by an en- 
tranced subject are not easy to fol- 

Whether you will want to de- 
pends on your interest in parapsy- 
chology, its experimental tech- 
niques and conclusions. 

RAYS by Fred Reinfeld. Sterling 
Publishing Co., Inc., N.Y., $3.50 

ticles qualify under the catch-all 
"ray" category. SF has long out- 
grown its Ray Period, so the ob- 
jective is no longer subjective. 
Reinfeld's illuminating text is com- 
plemented by liberal photographic 


by Roy A. Gallant. Garden City 
Books, N.Y., $2.95 

THE COMMON denominator of 
Gallant's books has been the utter 
beauty of the illustrations plus a 
forthright text. His present book 
covers the Solar System planet by 
planet, fact by fact, very clearly 
and readably. 

Irving Adler. The John Day Co., 
N.Y., $3.00 

AS THE theoretical and practical 
sciences become more compli- 
cated, so do their tools. Often these 
tools take fantastic shapes — wit- 
ness the giant grid of the radio 
telescope — and others would 
never be thought of as tools by 
the layman at all. 

Adler handles this aspect of the 
sciences in absorbing, understand- 
able fashion. 

TIME by R. C. N. Bowen. Philo- 
sophical Library, N.Y., $6.00 

OF ALL animals, only man is 
consciously aware that there is 
more to time than right now. How- 
ever, the concept of geologic time 
was greatly foreshortened only a 
century back. Our longer view has 
been due to dating methods: ra- 
dioactivity, sedimentation, chemi- 
cal, astrophysical, etc. 

Amazingly, improved method- 
ology has increased the age of 
the Earth from mere millions to 
upward of four billion years — and 
decreased the age of man from a 
theoretical one million to under 

seventy-five thousand! 

Time spent in this exploration 
of time is time well spent. 













This was cornbaff, strictly from 
Squaresville — the Mad Scientist 

■ J '_ 




t / 

bit — but dig this cat's pajamas! 

(Excerpt from Yardley University Daily 
Bulletin, April 1, 1925) Professor Her- 
bert Claymore, head of the Physics De- 
partment, announced today that he is 
leaving on a brief sabbatical. During his 
absence, Professor Claymore's classes 
will be conducted by Dr. Potter. 













.<> T 

• *■ 

• • 



fH I 




• _•■**■ 




T 14 » 

T was quarter past eight Mar- 
tinis in the little bar across the 
street and just down the 
block from Television City. This 
was subjective time, of course, but 
then Don Freeman always ran on 
subjective time, and didn't every- 
body, when you came right down 
to it? 

Right down to eight Martinis, 
that is? 

Don didn't know, but he was 
willing to argue the point with all 

And the big trouble right now 
was that there weren't any comers. 
Apparently Rosalie wasn't going to 
show up after all, and nobody else 

Illustrated by FINLAY 


• ..- 









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f c» r ,°C 

" °OoOo J 


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in this neon-lighted nothing was 
worth talking to. In just a little 
while, Don realized, it was going to 
get very drunk in here. And he'd 
wind up talking to the bartender 

That was bad. But going home 
would be still worse. Besides, you 
can't go home again. Thomas Wolfe 
had said that, and it was a pretty 
perceptive remark, coming from a 
guy who hadn't even been married. 

Don drained his drink and ex- 
tended the empty glass. "Alms, for 
the love of Allah," he said. 

The bartender did his duty. 

Somebody nudged Don's shoul- 
der and stepped on his foot, hard. 

"Be my guest," Don muttered, 
but moved down to the end of the 
bar. It was crowded in here — you 
couldn't hear yourself drink. Of 
course, that was the one great ad- 
vantage, wasn't it? You also 
couldn't hear yourself think. And 
if you pressed your luck (and your 
drinks), after a time you couldn't 
feel yourself think, either— to think 
about Rosalie and the house and 
the job without feeling any pain or 
any remorse. Or not to think 
about them at all. 

And the time was now, or at 
least only a Martini or two away. 
Soon he'd be able to forget that 
Rosalie was only a two-bit chirp 
who'd fluttered into his cage hop- 
ing to find a perch on one of the 
agency's shows. He'd forget about 
going home, too — going home to 

Beverly and Pat and Michael. Not 
that there was anything wrong with 
them, really. It was just that every 
second guy his age seemed to be 
married to a girl named Beverly 
(or Shirley, or Susan) and they all 
had two kids named Pat and 

A S for forgetting the job, that 

**■ was the real bonus deal. Fun- 
ny how he'd wanted it once — full 
credit listing as executive producer 
on Playlights. But now that he was 
boss man, it was just another head- 
ache; fighting the client, fighting 
the network, fighting the talent and 
the no-talent they sent him, fight- 
ing the hacks who kept on sending 
him the same three lousy scripts, 
over and over again. 

There was the one about the girl 
recovering from a nervous break- 
down who gets into a bind where 
she thinks she's committed a mur- 
der — only her doctor uncovers the 
real killer, and so they get married. 
There was the one about the pilot 
or the racer or the gunfighter who 
loses his nerve until the chips are 
down, and then he comes through. 
And there was the one about the 
young guy who has to choose be- 
tween crass commercialism or per- 
sonal integrity, and guess what he 

Don hated this last script worst 
of all. Maybe it was because he 
lived it. And his blonde wife hadn't 
made the big renunciation speech 



about preferring financial poverty 
to spiritual poverty, and he hadn't 
played the climactic scene where 
he was supposed to walk out on the 
boss and turn to honest creative 

So now he was a big man, a real 
live producer and everything, and 
he was entitled to sit in a noisy bar 
on his night off and order another 

He held out his glass to the bar- 
tender once again. "Cloud Nine," he 

Again he felt himself being 
shoved out of the way. Half of Tele- 
vision City was in here tonight — 
production people, musicians, agen- 
cy men, even a gaggle of actors in 
full makeup for night dress re- 
hearsals. If he wanted to, he could 
find plenty of people to talk to. But 
what was the use? They were here 
for the same reason he was here, 
most of them; they had their own 
troubles. Some day he'd write a 
story about the TV industry and 
its eventual collapse due to inter- 
nal tensions. The Fall of the House 
of Ulcer. 

But not tonight. Not right now. 
Because here was the drink, and 
maybe he'd better find himself a 
booth in back where he could nurse 
it without spilling the life-giving 
fluid all over a twenty-dollar Sulka 

Don spotted the empty in back, 
floated over to it, slid in. He was al- 
ready seated when he realized the 

booth wasn't empty. There was an 
elderly man sitting across from 
him, nursing a beer. 

"Sorry," Don said. "I didn't no- 

"Quite all right," the elderly man 
told him. "I don't mind company." 

Don eyed him, doing a quick job 
of type-casting. 

HP HE man was in his late fifties 
■*■ and looked a bit like Parker 
Fennelly; one of those New Eng- 
land characters. It wasn't a makeup 
job either, although he was ob- 
viously an actor escaped from re- 
hearsal, because he was wearing a 
costume. He had on a black double- 
breasted suit with wide lapels; a 
celluloid collar rode above his 
white shirt; a string tie twined with 
the ribbon of his pince-nez. 

"The Old Professor, eh?" Don 

The man raised his eyebrows. 
"But that's remarkable," he said. 
"How on Eaith did you recognize 

"Simple." Don tapped his glass. 
"In vino Veritas" He leaned for- 
ward. "Thaf s the motto of MGM, 
you know." 

The man looked puzzled. 

"Don't mind me," Don told him. 
I've just come from my meteorolo- 
gist and he tells me I'm a little un- 
der the weather." 

"But you did recognize me—" 

"Of course. How could I possibly 
forget old — old — " 




"Herbert Claymore." 

"Sure! Herb Claymore, as I live 
and breed! The last of the big-time 
spenders! What are you doing here 
- the Mad Scientist bit?" 

The man lifted his beer glass. 
"Please. Not so loud." He drank 
slowly, then looked up. "But how 
could you know? I mean, you must 
have been a mere child when you 
saw me. How old are you now, 
might I ask?" 

"Thirty-four," Don told him. 

"Then it's utterly impossible. 
You wouldn't even have been 

"I was born, all right," Don said. 
"I can show you my navel to prove 

"You're intoxicated." 

"Isn't everybody? What did you 

come here for?" 

"Merely to study." 

"Getting up on your lines, eh? 
Well, don't let me stop you. I'm 
about ready to go, anyway." 

"No, please stay. I was hoping to 
find someone to talk to. And you 
intrigue me. I mean, I didn't ex- 
pect anyone to recognize me." 

"Not recognize Herb Claymore, 
the man who rocked the scientific 
world with his achievements! They 
mocked you, ridiculed you, laughed 
you out of court. But were you dis- 
couraged? No! You forged ahead, 
pushing back the boundaries of dis- 
covery past Preparation H, into 
Preparation I, even Prepara- 
tion J 


"Just who are you, sir?" 
"Don Freeman is the name. Or 
as I put it to the young ladies of 
my acquaintance, Don Freeman, at 

your service." 

"It isn't familiar. And yet you 
seem to know." 

"I do. I do." 

"Is it because of my clothing?" 

■ AON nodded. "That Hoover col- 
*-^ lar would give anybody away." 

"Hoover collar?" The man 
paused. "Ah, yes, Herbert Hoover, 
the chap who headed Belgian Re- 
lief during the War." 

"President Hoover," Don cor- 

"Is he?" 


"Not any more. But back in 
192 9-" 

"Sorry. That was after my time." 


"Four years. I left in '25." 

"Did you now? And what else 
is new?" 

"Why, everything! I just arrived, 
and I must confess the changes are 
more startling than I'd anticipated. 
The very ground on which the 
university stood is now occupied 
by this television installation, 

"Come off it, Claymore. You're 
laying a bomb." 

"I beg your pardon?" 

"Very unfunny. We are not 

"I assure you, I'm quite serious." 

Don focused on him briefly. 



"This isn't a rib? You aren't a fugi- 
tive from the Guild?" 

"I am not a fugitive in any sense 
of the word, sir. I am a visitor." 

"You, Herbert Claymore, came 
here in a time machine from the 
year 1925?" 

"In a manner of speaking, yes." 

Don sighed slowly. "Then I, Don 
Freeman, need another drink. In a 
manner of speaking, God, yes!" 

He waved to the bartender. 

"The same?" the bartender in- 

"No. Switch me to a Miltown 
Special." He peered at his com- 
panion. "How about you?" 

"What is a Miltown Special?" 

"It's just like an ordinary Mar- 
tini, only there's a tranquilizer in 
the olive." 


"Come on. I'll bet you couldn't 
get one back where you came from. 
Why, they still had Prohibition, 
didn't they?" 

"Indeed, yes." Claymore looked 
up at the bartender. "The same." 

The bartender left. 

"No kidding," Don muttered. 
"From 1925, eh? Just like that." 

"Not 'just like that/ as you put it. 
I spent eighteen years perfecting 
the modus operandi. Steinmetz and 
Edison gave me the courtesy of a 
hearing, but nobody else was inter- 
ested in my work." 

"Not even Einstein?" 

"You refer to Albert Einstein, 
the German mathematician? I 

never met the gentleman. You see, 
I haven't traveled abroad." 

r |^HE bartender set their drinks 
■■■ before them and Don signed 
the tab. 

"You're serious about this gag, 
huh?" said Don. "Time traveling. 
What a ball! Wh^d you come here, 
of all places?" 

"I thought the university was 
still in existence," Claymore ex- 
plained. "Now I learn it disap- 
peared during the — ah — Depres- 
sion, I believe they called it." 

"Depression. I'm an authority on 
Depressions, particularly my own," 
Don said. "Depressions, ruts, 
graves. Deep stuff." 

"But this seems a wonderful era." 

"Is it? Look, I'll swap you even. 
You stay here, I go back to 1925. 
As long as we're kicking the rou- 
tine around for laughs, I mean." 

"It wouldn't be fair," Claymore 
told him. "That was a barbaric era." 

"I can see you haven't read the 
papers," Don answered. "Maybe 
they don't have newsboys at the 

"Sir, I must ask you to—" 
"All right, no offense. But any- 
one who likes the way things are 
today must be crazy. Just look at 
the situation— cold war, union scan- 
dals, fallout, conformity, space 
race, alphabet bombs, why Johnny 
can't read, security, censorship, an- 
ti-segregation troubles. Ifs mur- 



"I fail to see that if s any worse 
than what I left behind me" said 
Claymore. "In 1925 we had the 
Bolshevik menace, the Teapot 
Dome scandal, and bootlegging. As 
for censorship — what about Prohi- 
bition? What about this law down 
in Tennessee forbidding the teach- 
ing of evolution in the schools? An- 
ti-segregation troubles? Haven't 
you heard about lynching? And as 
for murder, our papers are full of 
Al Capone." 

"Aw right awready," Don said. 
"So let's play the flip side. Have 
you been around long enough to 
notice rock-'n'-roll, Presley, the 
tail-fin cars, the lousy ads, the 
crummy movies? Will Success 
Spoil Frankenstein's Monster — 
now I ask you!" 

Claymore sipped his drink. "I've 
heard your rock-'n'-roll, as you call 
it, and your Mr. Presley. But have 
you ever heard voh-doh-dee-oh-doh 
songs, or Yes, We Have No Bana- 
nas? Have you ever tried to drive 
a Model T over a corduroy road 
during a rainstorm? Do your adver- 
tising tycoons ever ask the immor- 
tal question, Why Wear a Truss? 
And as for motion pictures, I sub- 
mit the epic productions starring 
Mae Murray, Gilda Gray, and the 
cast-of-ten-thousand dramas of 
Cecil B. de Mille." He smiled. "At 
least you enjoy the benefit of mod- 
ern technology." 

"Sure. Air-conditioning, tele- 
vision, supermarkets, automatic 

washers. Also guided missiles, and 
the deadliest weapon of all, the in- 
come tax." 

"Which we also had." 

DON drank around his olive. "So 
it's a Mexican standoff. But 
let's consider the really important 
things. Like the crowded housing 
conditions that ruin our metropoli- 
tan areas, and the gray flannel 
strait jackets we wear, and the 
women we love — those big-busted, 
women we love — those big- 
busted, bleached-blonde, bird- 
brained beauties." 

"Very well." Claymore smiled. 
"I'll match today's housing with 
1925 tenements. Did you know 
that only half of the homes boasted 
bathtubs, and less than half had 
inside plumbing? I needn't say 
anything about our atrociously un- 
comfortable furniture. And as for 
clothing, I needn't say anything 
about that, either. Just look at what 
I'm wearing as compared to your 

"Never mind the small talk," 
Don interrupted. "Lefs get back to 
fundamentals. Namely, sex." 

"All right. You paint a rather 
alluring picture of the feminine 
ideal. In its place I offer you the 
Flapper — thin, flat-chested, neu- 
rotically shrill and neurotically 
slangy, gin-drinking, affected—" 

"Okay, I get the message," Don 
cut in. "But as long as we're play- 
ing the game, why do we have to 



limit ourselves to my today and 
your yesterday? If both the past 
and the present are so intolerable, 
why can't we hop into your merry 
not-so-Oldsmobile and take a joy- 
ride into the future ?" 

"I did," Claymore said. 


"I said I did." He drained his 
glass. "This is my second stop, you 
might say. My first was to a time 
approximately thirty-five years 
from now." 

"Why didn't you stay there? 
Don't tell me things were just as 

"Judge for yourself. No Com- 
munist scare any more." 


"It's the Conservatives they're 
afraid of. Consies, they call them. 
Advocates of go-slowism in govern- 
ment and business and interna- 
tional relations. Things need to be 
done. They must be done. Result — 
suppression of free speech, general 
censorship, spy hunts. Then there's 
the plutonium scandal to consider, 
and the sub-teen delinquency prob- 
lem, and the druglegging. I don't 
think I'll mention their popular 
songs, or what has happened to en- 
tertainment media. Dimensional 
TV can be pretty overwhelming, 
and of course advertising has kept 
pace. As for comfort — you'd never 
imagine the rigors and distress of 
a rocket flight to the Moon." 

"And the women?" asked Don 

CLAYMORE made an ellipse 
with his hands. "Lovely. Aver- 
age weight, two hundred pounds. 
They're known as Queen-sized 
dolls. Quite aggressive, of course, 
as is only natural under a matriar- 
chy. As you can perhaps detect 
even from the trends of today, they 
control virtually all of the corpor- 
ations and business enterprises, to- 
gether with entertainment media 
and government." 

"Then what's the answer?" Don 
protested. "You mean you cant 
beat the game? You can't get away 
from it, wherever you go?" 

"You can't get away from your- 
self," Claymore declared. "Thafs 
the only answer I've learned. How 
you live, in any age, is up to you. 
The adjustments you make with 
your own environment." 

"But that's corny," said Don. 

"You mean horse feathers?" 
Claymore retorted. 

Don nodded. "I suppose you in- 
tend to go back to 1925 and take 
up just where you left off?" 

'Why not? I've learned what I 
wanted to learn. And if you have 
problems, I advise you to do the 
same. Accept reality." 

"That's a lot of-" Don hesitated. 
Suddenly he banged on the table. 
"No, it isn't! You're right, by God! 
Accept reality, thafs the answer. 
Now, look. You claim you actually 
came here in a time machine. Do 
you understand what this means? 
Why, it's a multi-million-dollar 



proposition from word one!" 
He hunched forward. "Look, let's 
you and I get together, equal part- 
nership. I'll handle the whole deal, 
do all the spadework. In two weeks 

we'll blast everything else off the 
map. I can get you the biggest pub- 
licity campaign you ever heard of 
— spreads in every newspaper and 
magazine in the country, your 
choice of network time. The adver- 
tising tieup is so sweet, I don't even 
have to talk about it. Man from 
the past here today — in person! 
You'll hit all the big shows! Law- 
rence Welk, Steve Allen, Person to 
Person. What an endorsement job 
you can do on products! Shove you 
out next to a 1925 icebox and let 
you compare it with a new freezer, 
let you stand up there and break a 
few lousy Caruso records after you 
listen to the latest Fats Domino 
album. Get the pitch? And we'll 
ghost a daily column for you, the 

homespun philosophy bit. You're 
going to be big, bigger than Godfrey 
ever was at his peak, bigger than—" 

"Sorry.'' Claymore stood up. "I 
meant what I said. I'm going back 
where I belong." 

"Now wait a minute! This kind 
of opportunity only comes once in 
a lifetime. And there's no time like 
the present-—" 

"For you, perhaps. For me, 
there's no time like the past." 

"But you said yourself it stinks." 

"I can adjust. And that's what 
I'm telling you now— adjust to your 

own time, your own circumstances." 
Don shook his head, gazing into 

his empty glass. When he looked up 

again, Claymore was gone. 
// he'd ever been there. 
Hell, maybe it was just the 


SURE, it was the drinkie. Time 
travel was wacky. And so was 
the cornball philosophy. Make the 
best of things as they are. In other 

words, his subconscious was telling 
him to forget Rosalie, forget the rat 
race, go home to the little woman 
and the kids. A real lousy script 
ending. Well, he wouldn't buy it. 

He didn't have to buy it. He 
could sell it. 

Sure. That was the answer. Little 
old subconscious working away all 
the time, still alive and breathing 
through a snorkel-tube under the 
ten Martinis. It had just given him 
a great plot. Make a fine show. 

There's this old pappy-guy from 
the past, see? He invents this time 
machine gizmo and comes to the 
present day. At first he likes it and 
becomes a big celebrity, but after 
a while he gets so he can't stand all 
the phony routines. Finally they're 
going to put him on television, to 
make a big speech to the nation — 
sort of a Will Rogers bit — and a 
bunch of politicians have him in a 
bind to endorse their lousy candi- 
date. Only he gets up and double- 
crosses them by denouncing the 
whole act. Tells the people to re- 



turn to the old rugged individual- 
ism, the homely virtues, all that 

Why, it was a natural, thafs 
what it was! A natural! 

Don fumbled around in his 
pocket for his notebook. Better get 
this down quick before he forgot. 
Tomorrow he could give it to a 
couple of the staff boys. All they'd 
have to do would be to run it 
through the typewriter — maybe 
he'd give them a third of the deal, 
but he'd keep the writing credit. 

No Time Like The Present. A 

great title. A great idea. And a great 
little thought, too. 

A man has to make the best of 
what he's got. 

Don started to scribble. He knew 
where he was and what he was do- 
ing, and right now he wouldn't 
trade places with anyone in the 
world. Anywhere, any time. 

(Excerpt from Yardley Univerity Daily 
Bulletin, April 5, 1925) Professor Her- 
bert Claymore, head of the Physics De- 
partment, resumed his duties today after 
a brief sabbatical. 



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E. Gunn, J. T. Mcintosh, and Theodore Sturgeon. 

The World that Couldn't Be & Eight Other Galaxy Novelets, 
and you can, if you don't put off till tomorrow, get a copy autographed 
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All the above are $3.95 each and may be obtained by sending 
your order on any sheet of paper, and check or money order, to 
this address: 

Anthology Department 

Galaxy Publishing Corp. 

421 Hudson Street 

New York 14, N. Y. 


DICTATOR desires employment, 
preferably permanent, in similar 
capacity. Will accept opportunity 
to establish own circumstances. 
Seven years experience. Last posi- 
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Being a live-wire political scientist, he 

needed just a single good connection ... to 
get high-voltage power out of a hot lead! 


Illustrated by WOOD 


THE hotel clerk shook his 
head obstinately. "I'm sor- 
ry, sir. Mr. Blacksword is 
an honored guest, a friend of the 
management. In view of the cir- 
cumstances surrounding—" he hesi- 
tated — "the termination of his 
recent position, and the enmity to- 
ward him from several sources, I 
am afraid we must refuse— " 

The little man scrawled on a 
sheet of hotel stationery. "Would 
you please have this sent up to Mr. 
Blacksword? He'll understand, I 

The clerk regarded the paper 

dubiously. "Just 'Box 91?" 

The little man nodded. 

The clerk's eyes went over the 
little man's shoulder and he turned. 
Two men stood a couple of feet 
behind him. They were big fellows, 
both wearing guns. Union body- 
guards, then. 

One took the piece of stationery. 
I'll take this up to Mr. Blacksword 
myself. You will please remain 

The little man bowed and the 
fellow strode to the elevator. His 
companion stood very still, his eyes 
on the little man. 




"You needn't stare," the little 
man said. "I won't run away. I 
also haven't any bombs, guns, poi- 
sons, or whatever. I assume you 
have a permit for your gun? May I 
see it?" 

The fellow reached inside his 
jacket and handed the little man 
a leather case. 

"Ummm . . . Protectors Union, 
Local 110. Assigned to Mr. G. P. 
Blacksword. Thank you." The little 
man handed back the credentials 
and turned away, ignoring the 

The light on the house phone 
winked and the clerk flipped it on. 

"Blacksword talking. Frisk him 

and send him up." 

"All right, Mr. Blacksword," said 
the clerk. 

The little man smiled angelical- 
ly and raised his arms to shoulder 
level. The protector patted him 

"Clean," he said, and the little 
man took the elevator up. 

The bodyguard went with him. 
They met the second protector in 
the corridor and they flanked him 
as he approached the door ' to 
Blacksword's room. They were 
duly scanned by winking lights 
and the door opened. 

G. Paul Blacksword sat in a 
chair smoking a cigar. "Come in," 
he said around it, and the little 
man went in. 

Blacksword touched the stud on 
the arm of the chair and the door 

closed. The little man turned and 
saw that the protectors had not 
come in. 

"Alone?" he asked. 

"I'm not a psycho," Blacksword 
told him. "Just cautious." He 
grinned around the cigar. "You 
know who I am," he pointed out, 
"so Fm one play behind." 

"Keplar. A. J. Keplar." 

Blacksword inclined his head 
without rising. "Representing?" 


Blacksword raised his brows. 
"Troy!" He turned his head to one 
side with a twist of his mouth. 
"Well! Please sit down, Mr. Kep- 
lar. You'll pardon me for not ris- 
ing . . . I'm sure you're aware I 
have a bad leg." 


f T , HE man generally referred to 
■■- as the Black Sword blew white 
clouds of cigar smoke at the ceiling. 
"How is it that Troy finds herself 
so suddenly in need of a dictator, 
Mr. Keplar?" 

"Mr. Blacksword-" 

"People don't call me mister," 
Blacksword interrupted. "Just 
Blacksword. Some commentator 
had a brainstorm once and my 
name became two words. It has a 
lovely romantic ring which the 
news services like. Pardon me for 
interrupting, but as long as I've 
done so, will you join me in a 



"I think not, Mr. — pardon me 
— Blacksword. But please feel free 
to ha^e one yourself." 

Blacksword grinned. His finger 
had already dialed a scotch-on-the- 
rocks. The servo began making 
noises and the glass popped out on 
the tray. Blacksword picked it up 

'Troy has been a dictatorship 
for thirty-one years, Blacksword," 
said Keplar. "For the last seven- 
teen years, it was under Colonel 
Hines, who seized power in the 
conventional manner, a military 
coup. As you may be aware from 
the newscasts, he died very sud- 
denly two weeks ago. The council 
finds that no man on Troy is cap- 
able of taking his place. So we 
placed our ad." 

"Died very suddenly, hm? How 
was that?" 

Keplar shrugged. "Rather an un- 
romantic end for a man of Hines* 
stature, I'm afraid. He suffered a 
heart attack." 

"I see. Proceed." 

"That about sums it up, sir. After 
casting about for two weeks, we of 
the council found no acceptable 
successor. It goes without saying 
that there were numerous candi- 
dates. One, Major General Farris, 
attempted to seize power. He was 
forestalled by the council and sub- 
sequently murdered by his own 

"The council stopped him, you 

The little man nodded. "Accord- 
ing to TAI law, a dictatorship hav- 
ing a secondary control council, 
when without a dictator, is in the 
hands of the council until a replace- 
ment is found for the dictator." 

Blacksword nodded and sipped 
noisily at his scotch. 

"We decided to advertise," Kep- 
lar went on. "When your ad coinci- 
dentally appeared at the same 
time, we were curious and wrote. 
When we received your rather — 
uh — laconic reply, we decided to 
take the chance of contacting you. 
We had requested references, of 
course, but naturally we are famil- 
iar with your background." 

"Thank you," said Blacksword. 
"Recognition is very flattering, es- 
pecially when one finds oneself out 
of a job." 

D LACKSWORD sipped scotch, 
-■-* puffed cloudily on the cigar, 
and regarded Keplar. "But you're 
a damned liar, Keplar. I happen to 
know the full story. Item: Troy is 
on the brink of war. Item: The 
council felt that this Major Gen- 
eral Farris would make a better 
commander in wartime than Hines. 
So you murdered Hines. Or had 
him murdered. When Major Gen- 
eral Farris tried to take command, 
he was killed by the army, which 
remained loyal to Hines. Item: 
You want me very badly and 
placed your ad immediately after 
you learned of mine. 



"Naturally, the true circum- 
stances are not widely known," 
Blacksword went on. "The people 
of Troy, for instance, aren't aware 
of the illegal intervention of the 
Trojan Council. For your informa- 
tion, you were rather sloppy, and 
I'm sure TAI shares my knowl- 
edge. But they are inclined not to 
take action, provided the situation 
is cleared up satisfactorily. They 
wouldn't accomplish anything by 
arresting the council en masse. I'm 
not sure of this, of course. I have 
little dealings with Terra Alta Im- 
perata. I'm merely assuming their 
agents are nearly as competent as 
mine." He smiled lazily. "Although 
not as well paid. 

"Come, Keplar," Blacksword 

concluded. "You didn't think Fd 

swallow your tale, did you? Hell's 
bells, I have spies and sources that 
make your council and its machi- 
nations look like a Boy Scout 

Blacksword stuck the cigar back 
in his mouth, raised one eyebrow 
in the characteristic mannerism 
witnessed by trillions on the video. 
He glared amusedly at the little 
man from Troy. 

Keplar sighed and spread his 
hands. "A test, of course. We de- 
liberately concocted the story I 
told you. If you were the man we 
wanted, we were sure you would 
know it to be a fabrication." 

"You're still lying!" said Black- 
sword. "Smoothly, though, and my 

compliments for that. I admire a 
man who thinks on his feet — a 
prime requisite for salesmen, dic- 
tators and diplomats." 

Blacksword regarded the ceiling 
reminiscently. "As you no doubt 
know, I was a salesman when I 
first went to Alsace. A twenty- 
thousand-a-year salesman. I was 
good at thinking on my feet Read- 
ing and studying were my hobby — 
I can quote you chapter and verse 
of Napoleon and Caesar and Lee 
and Arthenburg. By being a good 
salesman and thinking on my feet 
and with the aid of my hobby, I 
took over Alsace when they de- 
cided to try a dictatorship. I ruled 
as absolute dictator for seven years. 
Then the Alsacians decided on a 
democracy — the idiots! — and, ac- 
cording to TAI law, I resigned. I 
left the planet. Unfortunately some 
fool fanatic took a shot at me. So 

at present I'm not only out of a job, 
I'm out one good leg." 

Blacksword looked back at Kep- 
lar, puffed and grinned. "My apolo- 
gies. I hadn't intended to give a 
personal history. It's natural 
enough, I suppose. A man can't be 

a dictator — or even a good sales- 
man — without being something of 
an egotist." He looked squarely in- 
to Keplar's eyes. "Just as he can't 
be a diplomat without being an ex- 
pert liar. I think you'll admit the 
truth of both statements, Keplar. 
Your story was no test. You under- 
estimated me. You thought I might 



not want to talk about Troy if I 
knew what really happened to your 
last ruler. And naturally you don't 
want the story to get out If some- 
one — someone, Keplar — men- 
tioned publicly that Hines was as- 
sassinated by agents of the Trojan 
Council, TAI would have to make 
use of its knowledge and prose- 

The ex-dictator of the planet 
Alsace leaned forward and pointed 
with his cigar. "I think we fully 
understand each other now. Shall 
we discuss terms?" 

Keplar sighed. 'Tret's," he said. 


r W^ HE major picked up the report. 

■*■ It was stamped "Terra Alta 

Imperata: TOP SECRET," and 
sealed. He poked the packet into 
an unsealer, waited for the fool- 
proof seal to open, and took out 
the report marked "troy: black- 

Page one summed up the recent 
death of Troy's dictator, the unsuc- 
cessful attempt by Farris to gain 
control, and Farris* murder by the 
army. There was a brief summary 
of what TAI knew to be the actual 
circumstances in the situation. 

The major turned to page two, 
read a moment, then flicked the 
button on his intercom. "Come in 
here a few minutes, Jack." 

The young lieutenant entered 
and shut the door. He saw the top 

« < 

secret seal and locked the door. 

"Sit down. I want you to hear 
this. Light up if you want." 

This reading of reports aloud to 
his adjutant was a habit of the 
major's. He felt both of them 
gained a more thorough under- 
standing than by scanning and di- 
gesting the reports individually. 

"First a quick refresher on the 
general situation," the major said. 
"Here's one thaf s been boiled down 
to the bone. It's been abridged and 
digested — umm — seven times." 


The lieutenant grinned and 
turned his face quickly away. 

'A brief summary of the Troy 
— Macedon situation,'" the major 
read. "There are five planets in 
the Hellenic system. They are 
called Troy, Macedon, Monos, 
Deutoros and Tritos. Troy and 
Macedon, the innermost two, are 
fully inhabited. Monos, Deutoros 
and Tritos have never been colon- 
ized, although Monos is able to 
support human life. 

"'Tensions exist between Troy 
and Macedon for the following 
basic reasons: 

"*(1) They use different gov- 
ernmental systems, Troy being a 
dictatorship while Macedon is a 
parliamentary monarchy. 

"'(2) They have never been 
able to reach a mutually acceptable 
mutual trade agreement. 

" ' ( 3 ) They have been unable to 
reach a mutually acceptable agree- 
ment for exploiting the remaining 



three worlds of their system. 

"'They have consistently de- 
clined TAI offers of aid and/or 

" 'TAI is thus forced to maintain 
a strict non-intervention policy 
with regard to the Hellenic sys- 
tem/ " 

The major discarded the sheet. 
"Now to current events," he said. 
He read through the first page of 
the report and looked up. "We 
know that on March 13 Troy ad- 
vertised for a dictator, identifying 
themselves only by a GBS box 
number. At the same time Black- 
swprd advertised for employment. 
A seeming coincidence — but we 
also know that Troy placed their 
ad alter they saw Blacksword's." 

"In other words, they wanted 
him," the lieutenant said. 

WITH a nod, the major re- 
turned to the report. "'On 
March 22 A. J. Keplar, Vice-Presi- 
dor of the Trojan Secondary Con- 
trol Council, arrived on Luna. He 
proceeded at once to the Hotel 
Starlight and was subsequently ad- 
mitted to the room occupied by 
G. P. Blacksword, recently resigned 
dictator of the planet Alsace, now 
a democracy. 

"'Blacksword and Keplar re- 
mained in conference for two hours 
and thirty-seven minutes. At the 
end of that time, Blacksword 
checked out, and he and Keplar, 
accompanied by two armed guards 

n < 

from the Protectors Union, took a 
taxi to the port. All four boarded 
the Trojan ship Ilium, but after 

a few minutes the protectors came 
out again and left, carrying their 
gunbelts. Obviously they had been 
discharged/ " The major looked up 
with a wry face. "Obviously," he 
said drily. "This agent loves detail. 
Clock-and-dagger stuff goes to your 
head sometimes. Ummm . . . The 
Ilium was immediately cleared 
and blasted away for Troy. Report 
ends/ " 

He picked up another. 
The Ilium landed on Troy on 
March 24. A. J. Keplar, Vice-Pres- 
idor — ' etc., etc., etc. Here: 'On 
March 26 G. Paul Blacksword as- 
sumed office as dictator of Troy. 
His first act was to accuse Council 
Presidor Wood of high treason. 
Wood and a hired assassin were 
turned over to TAI as the murder- 
ers of the ex-dictator of Troy. In his 

formal charge Blacksword stated 
that no one else on the planet was 
implicated in Hunes* murder. Wood 
and the assassin were returned to 
Earth under guard/" 

The major looked up. "Now we 
happen to know, Jack, that the de- 
cision to murder Hines was voted 
upon by the entire council and 
carried unanimously. The arrest of 
Wood and the assassin was Black- 
sword's way of gaining the favor of 
the people of Troy. On the other 
hand, he had no wish to replace the 
entire council." 



"Clever fellow," the lieutenant 

The major smiled. "Thafs the 
very mildest way of putting it, 
Jack. TAI has decided to accept 
Wood and let the matter drop. We 
haven't any particular desire to ar- 
rest the entire council, either. Be- 
sides, if we did that now, we'd have 
to take Blacksword as well." 

"But we have something on him," 
the lieutenant said, "for future 

The major nodded and resumed 
reading. " 'At the same time, Black- 
sword advised the council of his 

personal preference for Keplar as 
Presidor. The council accordingly 
voted Keplar into office.'" 

"Sounds like a deal," said the 

"Of course. A private deal be- 
tween Blacksword and Keplar, 
aside from the council's contract 
with Blacksword," the major said. 
"'Blacksword immediately closet- 
ed himself in an all-night session 
with Troy's general staff. On 
March 2 8 Blacksword, Keplar, and 
Foreign Minister Cole spaced to 
the planet Macedon aboard the 
Ilium. Reports ends.' " 

HP HE major began a new page. 
■■" "'On Macedon, Blacksword, 
Keplar, and Cole met with Mace- 
don's King Robert and his diplo- 
matic staff. The meetings lasted 
three days. At the end of this time, 
the Trojan delegation returned to 

> n 

Troy. Immediately after their de- 
parture, King Robert called for a 
meeting of the Macedonian gen- 
eral staff. Opinion: War between 
Macedon and Troy immediately 
imminent. Report ends.' " 

The major flipped to a new page. 

"'In a world-televised speech on 
April 6, Dictator Blacksword in- 
formed Troy that Macedon re- 
mained "insolently adamant" in its 
demands, and that he might be 
"forced to call on you, the people 
of Troy, to lend us your loyal sons 
to protect our planet against the 
Macedonian aggressors." The 
speech was followed by hotly anti- 
Macedon demonstrations all over 
Troy. Opinion : Immediate war be- 
tween Troy and Macedon: 

"So if s war," the lieutenant com- 

"Hell, we've known that for eight 
years. But Blacksword's presence 
changes things. The probability 
factor of Macedon's emerging vic- 
torious was 83 on 20 March. On 8 
April, it had dropped to 60. As of 
today, it's minus 10 — 60-40 in 
favor of Blacksword's winning. Of 
course thafs our computer. Mace- 
don still ranks higher on the news 
services — but they don't have the 
information we do." 

The lieutenant whistled. "One 

"One man. He's that good. He 
gets things done, even though his 
methods may not be the most hu- 
mane or popular. Witness Alsace. 



He whipped them into a- power, but 
they were so shocked by his meth- 
ods that they voted themselves a 

The lieutenant nodded. "What 
do we do?" 

"We — I'll reserve my answer for 
a moment, Jack, until I hear your 
opinion. What would you say?" 

The lieutenant considered the 
problem, weighing the factors care- 
fully in his mind. "The differences 
are strictly between Troy and 
Macedon ... no other worlds are in- 
volved ... no conceivable imme- 
diate danger to TAI . . . both are 
grade-C planets ... I'd say we do 
nothing. TAI has no grounds for 
intervention unless Blacksword — 
no, he's too smart. We do nothing." 
He looked questioningly at his su- 
perior, read the verification of his 
decision in the major's eyes. 

"Correct. This is none of our 
business. We let them have their 
war. But we do a little more than 
nothing. We watch. As always, TAI 
sits back and watches." The major 
initialed the report. "Seal this and 
forward it to headquarters, Jack. 
By the way, are you and Alice do- 
ing anything Friday night? How 
about some bridge over at our 
place?" v, 


A T least ten feet long and five 
**• feet wide, the desk was empty 
of paper or books or letter opener. 

There was a calendar on it and a 
cigar box and two ashtrays and a 
visual communicator. In one cor- 
ner was a panel of buttons. The 
desk and the big swivel chair be- 
hind it gave the impression of big- 
ness — bigness and power. 

The man behind the desk was 
big, too, and it was obvious he 
wielded vast power, just as it was 
obvious he was accustomed to 
power and knew how to wield it. 

Judging from what showed 
above the top of the desk, he had to 
be at least six feet two. There was 
a swelling expanse of at least two 
feet between his shoulders. His 
neck was thick and the head above 
it massive and jowly. The face was 
slightly red, the hair gray-shot 
brown and cut crisply short The 
nose was too large even for the man 
who wore it. His brows were bushy 
and dark, without the streaks of 
gray in his hair. Beneath them, very 
round, very dark brown eyes glis- 
tened and pierced like diamond 

His hands were the biggest Gor- 
ham had ever seen, and the hairi- 
est. The cigar smelled, like all 
cigars to Gorham, bad. The bear- 
man (man-bear?) behind the desk 
seldom took it out of his mouth, but 
when he did, with two hairy fingers, 
its ends was a wet, thoroughly 
shredded pulp. 

As Gorham entered, the cigar 
jutted out of the face like a second 



"Captain Gorham, I believe," 
said the big man, the cigar bobbing 
up and down. "Come on in and sit 
down, Captain. I haven't bitten 


anyone in years. 

Captain Gorham walked to the 
desk, hesitated, and sat. The chair 
on his side of the desk was a great 
deal smaller, its front legs shorter 
than the rear ones. 

"You'll pardon me for not rising, 
Captain, but as you no doubt know, 
I'm crippled. And if you're any- 
thing like me, you wouldn't deign 
to shake hands with a seated man." 

"Quite so," Gorham said. He 

crossed his legs. 

"That isn't true, really," the big 
man went on. "My, leg is quite all 
right. I don't rise because it gives 
me an advantage— makes the other 
fellow feel uncomfortable. Uncom- 
fortable chair, isrft it?" 

"Well, I wouldn't-" ' 

"Of course it is. Purposely un- 
comfortable, and for the same rea- 
son. I'd offer you a cigar, Captain 
Gorham, but this one is so visibly 
distasteful to you I won't waste the 

•"I never-" 

"What can I do for you, Captain 

Gorham mustered himself. "Mr. 
Blacksword— " 

"Someone should've briefed you, 
Captain Gorham. I'm not called 
mister. Blacksword suffices. My 
father gave it to me in one piece, 
but a GBS newscaster took the lib- 

erty of changing it to two words. 
Sorry to interrupt. Please go on." 

The brown eyes drilled into Gor- 
ham and he cleared his throat. 
Then he caught the twinkle in the 
eyes and took another ten seconds. 

"If you're quite through attempt- 
ing to make me feel ill at ease, 
Blacksword, I'd like to talk with 
you a few minutes and be on my 
way. I have pressing duties else- 

Blacksword stared. Then he 
snatched the cigar out of his mouth 
and fell back in the swivel chair, 
laughing. Following the example 
set by centuries of swivel chairs, 
it creaked. 

"Well, I'll just be happy 
damned! My very sincere apolo- 
gies, Captain—" he broke off into 
laughter. "My very sincere apolo- 
gies! Just a moment, will you?" 

He bent forward across the im- 
mense desk and activated the com- 
municator. "Bring a comfortable 
chair in here, please. And—" he 
looked up, one eyebrow raised — 
"Captain, I realize you're on duty, 
but you won't force a man to drink 
alone, will you?" 

"Never. Severe breach of eti- 

"Two scotches on the rocks," 
Blacksword continued into the box, 
beaming at Gorham. "Fast." 


E clicked off and leaned back' 
with the cigar in his mouth 
again. "May as well discuss the 



weather, Captain. The s. o. b. 
would probably interrupt us right 
in the middle of a vital sentence, 

"Nice weather you're having 
here," Gorham remarked. 

"Very. Sorry I had to cut your 
man out of it the other day. But 
let's face it, Captain, he's a dis- 
grace to TAI." Blacksword shook 

his head. "Lousiest spy I ever saw." 

"I'm afraid I haven't the fog- 
giest idea what you're talking 
about," Gorham smiled. 

"Of course you haven't. Oh, I 
don't mind — that's why I fired him 
from my staff ostensibly for seduc- 
ing one of the girls in the kitchen. 
But we all understand each other; 
she was paid to seduce him." 

Captain Gorham shrugged. "Suit 

"My prime aim in life. That's 
why I'm keeping my pilot. He's 
such a damn fine pilot, I intend to 
let him continue reporting to his 
superior in TAI. He'll be surprised 
when he sees the new uniform I've 
designed for him, however. Green 
and blue!" 

Gorham glanced down at his 
green and blue TAI uniform with 
a rather sickly grin. 

"Ah! I think you'll find that chair 
a little better, Captain Gorham. 
Thanks, Swahili." Blacksword took 
the drinks and handed one to Gor- 
ham after the captain had settled 
himself into the new chair. 

crasies," Blacksword said, smack- 
ing his lips. "Always call my serv- 
ants Swahili." He leaned back and 
rattled the ice in his glass. "I re- 
quested a representative of TAI, 
Captain Gorham, because I thought 
I'd better find out your views con- 
cerning the Troy-Macedon situa- 

Captain Gorham appeared to 
swallow with the wrong tract. "Sir?" 

"As far as I'm able to see, there's 
no reason here for TAI to inter- 
fere," Blacksword explained. 

"As far as I can see, Blacksword, 
you're correct," Gorham said. 
"You're aware of our policy." 

"Big brother. Shoulder to cry on. 
Helping hand if needed. No inter- 
vention unless someone threatens 
galactic security. The usual bene- 
volent TAI policy. My spies had so 
informed me, but I wanted to hear 
it from the horse's mouth." 

Gorham made a mental note to 
demand a thorough security check 
of his staff. 

"I also wanted to assure you I 
have absolutely no intentions of 
threatening anyone but the Mace- 
donians. As a matter of fact, I'm not 
threatening them. They're the 
troublemakers here." 

"That's very thoughtful of you," 
Gorham said. "In that case, we shall 
go on keeping an eye on you, but 
remain outside the dispute. By the 
same token, we can't be expected 
to lend assistance to the defeated 

"One of my personal idiosyn- planet." 



"Oh, certainly not. But natural- 
ly Earth will. She always comes 
through in a pinch. It's almost 
worthwhile being defeated, just to 
let good old Earth come in and re- 

Gorham smiled drily. "Surely 
you don't intend being defeated?" 

Blacksword snorted. "Captain, 
perhaps there's one thing more we 
should get straight between us. TAI 
will be very happy to know this. 
Ifs something your spies don't — 
and won't — know. I have abso- 
lutely no intention of being de- 
feated, because I have absolutely 
no intention of fighting." 


HP HE big man with the smelly 
*■ cigar was ushered into the office 
of Vassily Kearney, President of 
United Earth. Noting the cigar, 
President Kearney delightedly lit 
one of his own. 

"Have to be very careful with 
these," he explained. "Diplomacy, 
y'know. Some people don't like 
cigar smoke." 

"Thaf s why I haven't a reputa- 
tion for diplomacy," Blacksword 
informed him. "That a genuine 

Kearney nodded, turning the 
cigar lovingly between his fingers. 
"One of our chief exports." 

"How well I know," Blacksword 
snorted. "Cost forty dollars each on 

Kearney extended a humidor. 
"In the White House, they're free 
to guests," he beamed. 

Blacksword helped himself to a 
handful and stuffed them in his 
pockets. He carefully stubbed his 
own out in the guest ashtray, lit the 
Havana, and sent up a cloud to 
arouse the envy of any ancient 
rocket ship. Kearney stared at the 
mangled butt. 

"I'm well aware of the value of 
your time, President Kearney," 
Blacksword puffed, "and I'll try to 
take up very little of it. As you've 
probably heard, I'm now affiliated 
with Troy." 

"Oh, yes. As dictator." 

Blacksword looked introspec- 
tive. "I just had a thought I'm not 
going to fire my laundry maid. The 
one with the Earth accent and the 
pocket transmitter. She doesn't find 
out much and she's very nice to 
look at." 

Kearney coughed. "I — ah — un- 
derstand Troy and Macedon are 
about to go to war." He sounded 
very unhappy. 

Blacksword nodded and leaned 
back. "Looks that way," he said. 
I'm glad you brought it up. Thaf s 
mainly what I wanted to discuss 
with you." 

"Yes. I suppose ifs about the 

"In a way. How'd this rehabili- 
tation business get started, any- 

"Ifs one of our oldest — ah — tra- 




ah — laundry maid. 

ditions," Kearney said, shaking his 
head regretfully. "We're the Mother 
Planet, you know, and somehow 
we've always continued the — ah 
— tradition of aiding conquered 
peoples get back on their feet." 

"I see," Blacksword sympathized. 
"That must cost Earth a pretty 

"My dear fellow!" Kearney 
cried. "You have no idea! You 
should see the World Debt!" 

"Then you'd be most happy to 
avoid such expenditures whenever 
possible. Which explains your spies 
being on every inhabited planet in 
the Galaxy, I suppose." 

The President looked embar- 
rassed. "Ah — Mr. Blacksword — 
about your - 

We shall-" 

"My apologies for bringing in 
my household affairs," Blacksword 
interrupted. "What would you esti- 
mate the cost of rehabilitating, say, 
Troy or Macedon?" 

Kearney threw up his hands. 
"Any amount! Depending, of 
course, on the amount of destruc- 

"A real holocaust," Blacksword 
said with a careless wave of his 
hand. "Say, forty per cent destruc- 

Kearney groaned. 

"That can be avoided, Mr. Pres- 
ident," Blacksword said. 

Kearney stared at him question- 
ingly. And hopefully. 

"/ can stave off a war. Person- 


ally. Alone. I hate to sound pom- 
pous, but I doubt seriously if any- 
one else could." 

Kearney began thanking him on 
behalf of all Earth. 

LACKSWORD raised a hand. 
"This is rather embarrassing," 
he said, wearing his best embar- 
rassed look, "but we'll need a small 
sum to carry it off. Without a shot 
being fired," he went on smoothly, 
as Kearney opened his mouth. "A 
very small sum, compared to the 
cost of rehabilitation. We figure 
half a million." 

"Good heavens! My dear fel- 

"You must remember," Black- 
sword pressed, "that Troy is a very 
poor planet, but that it will be a 
very big war." 

*— is that all it would cost?" 
Kearney finished. 

"— and — " Blacksword clamped 
his lips together and nodded sol- 
emnly. The sales job was over. 
"Guaranteed: no war!" 

Kearney was obviously elated. 
But he remembered to be politic. 
"We'd need assurance—" 

"The Secondary Control Coun- 
cil of Troy has authorized me to 
write out an agreement to the effect 
that, in the event of war, there'd 
be no rehabilitation appeal to 
Earth. Signed by me, as Dictator of 
Troy." His hand came out of his 
pocket with a pen and a cigar. He 
replaced the Havana lovingly. 






Overjoyed, Kearney pulled let- 
terheads from a desk drawer. 

"Oh, I already have the agree- 
ment. Had to clear it with the 
Council before I left, of course," 
Blacksword explained with a win- 
ning smile. "It lacks only our sig- 

"Of course," the President said. 
Then, "Of course!" 

They signed. 

"Now there's the matter of effi- 
cacy," Blacksword said. "I believe 
that in a democracy the people 
must be consulted on expen- 

"Not at all, not at all! Comes out 
of petty cash. Goes on the budget 
under 'defense' or 'foreign affairs' 
or something." He pressed a button 
on his desk. 

Ten minutes later the draft - 
made out to Blacksword personal- 
ly — was in his hands and Kearney 
was saying, "It has been a pleasure, 
sir. Delighted." 

"Always glad to do business with 
a democracy," Blacksword said, 
and he left. 

He put a coin in the Newsbuoy 
on the corner and requested the 
current handicap on the expected 
war between Macedon and Troy. 

"According to GBS computer, 
probability factor of Macedon 
emerging victorious is 72.9, Troy's 

"Suggest you check with Earth 
High Command," Blacksword said, 
and walked on. "Ah, that Kearney 
drives a shrewd bargain!" 

At a bank six blocks away, he 
opened an account. The size of his 
initial deposit carried him into the 
office of the president, who called 
the White House for verification of 
the half-million-dollar check. The 
White House was delighted that 
Blacksword was opening an ac- 
count on Earth. So was the presi- 
dent of the Home Planet Bank and 
Trust Co. of Earth. 

"A very wise move," he was say- 
ing as Blacksword left with a 
checkbook. "We have been in busi- 
ness for one hundred and seventy- 
six years, and in all that time we 
have never—" 

Blacksword neither heard nor 
cared what the bank had not done 
in one hundred and seventy-six 
years. He limped out hurriedly. 

At the post office on the corner, 
he filled out a $500,000 check from 
his new book, marked it for deposit 
only, and mailed it to the First 
Planetary Bank of Luna, to the per- 
sonal account of G. Paul Black- 

The owner of the First Planet- 
ary Bank of Luna, G. Paul Black- 
sword, then departed for Troy. 



r r , HE lieutenant took Blacksword 
■*■ in to the captain, who took him 
in to the major, who escorted him 
upstairs to the Sector Colonel. 

"The Black Sword!" Colonel 
McClintock exclaimed. "Come in! 



Sit down! What may I do for you?" 
Blacksword sat down quickly 
and rubbed his leg. "Business call, 
Colonel," he growled. He took the 
last gratis Havana from his lips and 
pointed it at the colonel. "I've got 

a complaint to make." 

Colonel McClintock nodded and 

fitted his hands together. "I see. I've 
heard, of course, about Troy's dis- 
agreement with Macedon— " 

"No doubt. This complaint isn't 
against Macedon, Colonel. Ifs 
against TAI, in the person of Cap- 
tain T. L. Gorham, and it will mean 
your eagles, your career, and your 

Colonel McClintock raised the 
COo content of the room with a 
whoosh. "Sir?" 

Blacksword leaned forward and 
drummed stubby fingers on Mc- 
Clintock's desk. "Am I correct in 
assuming that the — as you put it 
— disagreement between my planet 
and Macedon is our own business 
and not subject to TAI interven- 

"Well, I - Blacksword, I - yes. 
And we have kept our hands off." 

"Perhaps so. But Captain Gor- 
ham has not I told Captain Gor- 
ham, in my office, in strictest con- 
fidence, that I had absolutely no 
intention of fighting Macedon." 

Colonel McClintock- nodded. 
"Captain Gorham reported that 
fact directly to me and I assure you, 
sir, the information has not left this 

"The information has left this of- 
fice, Colonel. In Gorham's fat 
mouth. And it did not stay there! 
Hold on, I'm far from through. Gor- 
ham went straight to King Robert 
of Macedon and dropped a hint 
that I was not planning to fight. I 
suppose he hoped Macedon would 
be overjoyed — they didn't really 
want to fight either — there'd be no 
war, and he'd get the credit. I'd 
judge he's bucking for your job, on 
the sly." 

"The scoundrel!" 

"Well," Blacksword went on, 
"Macedon was overjoyed, all right. 
So overjoyed, they immediately re- 
doubled their offensive prepara- 
tions, and completely shelved de- 
fensive plans." 

The colonel opened his mouth. 

"Dammit, I'm not through yet!" 
Blacksword rapped out. "This con- 
stitutes illegal TAI intervention. 
Whether Gorham was authorized 
or not, he represents TAI and he 
spilled the beans. And he's your 
man. Ten words to your superior, 
Colonel, and that chicken farm 
you've been planning for your old 
age will end right there — in the 
planning stage. Along with your 



i^ 1 OLONEL McClintock stared. 
^ He sagged slowly back in his 
chair. It objected squeakily. When 
he finally found his voice, it was 
scarcely less squeaky than the 
chair. "And - and - ?" 



Blacksword leaned back com- 
placently. "And why have I come 
to you, rather than your superior? 

Because you and I have had no 
trouble to date. You can handle 

this easily. First, you drum Gor- 

ham out of TAI." 

The colonel waited a long mo- 
ment, then prompted Blacksword 
hopefully. "Second?" 

"Second," came Blacksword's 
voice from a billowing cloud of 
smoke, "since my feelings are hurt 
and my plan endangered, and since 
my feelings and my plans come 
high, you can assuage my deep in- 
jury by about half a million dol- 

Colonel McClintock bounced up 
in his chair and clamped his hands 
on the edge of his desk. "Why, 
that's nothing but black—" 

-sword," Blacksword cut in. 
"Careful with your language, Colo- 
nel. My feelings might get even 
more hurt. What's the name of your 
superior, by the way?" 

McClintock fell back in the 
chair. "Well, I'll be damned!" 

"You'll be worse than that if you 
don't dig out a checkbook!" Black- 
sword snapped. "And sign this 
agreement that the check is bona 
fide and you won't try any non- 
sense such as stopping payment." 
He flipped the paper across the 
desk. "And let's have no nonsense 
about the money. I can name you 
any one of six TAI accounts for six 
different exigencies, any one of 


which will never feel a mere half 
million. Do you need a pen?" 

There were a few words bandied 
as to where the co-signed agree- 
ment should be kept. Blacksword, 
of course, limped from Colonel 
McClintock's office with both 
check and agreement. Colonel Mc- 
Clintock left his office shortly after 
with a sick headache. 

Blacksword sent the check, 
marked deposit only, to the Home 
World Bank and Trust Co. of 
Earth, special delivery. He then 
wrote himself a check to the 
amount of $500,000 on that bank. 
This he marked for deposit only 
and dispatched, regular mail, to the 
First Planetary Bank of Luna. 

He then departed for Troy. 


CAPTAIN Gorham bounced to 
his feet. "You what?" 

"You heard me," Blacksword 
told him. "I told Colonel McClin- 
tock you dropped a hint to Mace- 
don that I'm not planning to fight 
them. To save his own skin, he 
wrote me a rather large check — 
never mind on what TAI emer- 
gency account — and immediately 
set into motion proceedings for hav- 
ing you court-martialed. You've 
had it with Terra Alta Imperata, 
Captain Gorham." 

"You filthy - 1 didn't - you told 
him a deliberate lie, Blacksword! 
Why? What in the devil have I-" 



"Easy on that adrenalin, Captain 
Gorham. Sit down. There, that's 
much better. I want you to hear 
something. It's a recording of our 
conversation here a couple of 

weeks ago." Blacksword touched, a 

"—to interrupt. Please go on," 
came Blacksword's recorded voice. 

"If you're quite through attempt- 
ing to make me feel ill at ease, 
Blacksword, I'd like to talk with 
you a few minutes on my 
way. I have pressing duties else- 
where." That was Gorham's caus- 
tic voice. 

Blacksword switched off the ma- 
chine and regarded Gorham over 
his cigar. 

"Surely you don't mean that 
merely because of that remark, 
youVe done all this to me?" Gor- 
ham asked incredulously. 

"I do. Because of that remark, 
plus the results of a very extensive 
investigation, I find I like you very 
much, Gorham. So I set about 
working out a plan to have you 
with me, rather than wasting your 
nerve and talent with TAI. And, 


incidentally, I managed to pick up 
a piece of change from TAI, as 
well as placing Colonel McClin- 
tock in my 'bought man' ledger." 

Gorham leaned forward across 
Blacksword's massive desk. "And 
what's to prevent my taking this 
whole story to Earth High Com- 
mand headquarters?" 

"Nothing — except a little adult 

thinking on your part. You're not 
TAI material, Gorham. You know 
it and I know it. You're damned 
fine Blacksword material. Please 
allow me to point out that Black- 
sword men receive ample oppor- 
tunity for travel and excitement, 
frequent raises and bonuses, and 
the very best of salary. As a mat- 
ter of fact, the starting figure I have 
in mind for you is considerably 
above a TAI captain's pay. Or a 
TAI colonel's pay, for that matter. 

"And there's another induce- 
ment. My men and I accept bribes 
as a matter of course, and energeti- 
cally solicit such additional emolu- 
ment. All I require in return is loy- 
alty and a closed mouth." ' 

Blacksword sat back and relit 
the cold cigar. He regarded Cap- 
tain Gorham with a very slight 

Gorham smiled back. "Quite a 
sales pitch. Only it wasn't neces- 
sary. But you knew that before you 
began, didn't you? I assume the 
plan is for me to resign from TAI 
at once?" 

Blacksword nodded. He opened 
a drawer in his desk and passed a 
deposit voucher across the desk. 
It showed that the sum of $25,000 


had been deposited to the account 
of Captain T. L. Gorham. 

"First six months in advance," 
Blacksword said. 

Gorham examined the slip of 
paper with a raised eyebrow, noted 
it was dated two weeks earlier, and 


' 181 

grinned. He buttoned it into his 
tunic. He sti 

§ • ■ 

"Gorham reporting for duty as- 
signment, sir." 

T% LACKSWORD laughed aloud. 

•*-* "None of that. My name is 
Blacksword. And we don't report 
that way. I have little use for the 
military way of doing things. Keep 
it sloppy." 

Gorham stuck his hands in his 
pockets. "Admitting the fact that 
you were absolutely sure of your- 
self — and me — what if I had 

"Oh, that's something I forgot to 
mention, Tom. You'll be watched. 

And the man who watches you will 
be watched. And — well, I hope you 
won't mind, but there's the matter 
of the recording. This is a composite 
of all you said when you were 
here before." He flipped the switch 
again, and again they listened to 
Gorham's voice. "This will give 
you an idea of how we do things." 
"If you're quite through attempt- 
ing to make me feel ill at ease, 
Blacksword, I'd like to talk with 
you a few mintues and be on my 
way. I have pressing duties else- 
where. Never. Severe breach of eti- 
quette. Nice weather you're having^ 
here. I'm afraid I haven't the fog- 
giest idea what you're talking 



about. Suit yourself. Sir? As far as 
I can see, Blacksword, you're cor- 
rect. You're aware of our policy. 
That's very thoughtful of you. In 
that case, we shall go on keeping 
an eye on you, but remain outside 
the dispute. By the same token, we 
can't be expected to lend assist- 
ance to the defeated planet. Surely 
you don't intend being defeated?" 

Gorham looked questioningly at 
his new employer and shrugged* 

Blacksword grinned. "Here's 
what my experts have done with 
it." He waved at the still-playing 

Gorham: Surely you don't in- 
tend being defeated? 

Blacksword : Of course not. But 
I want my methods kept under 
glass. This is a check, Captain Gor- 
ham. It's drawn to the amount 
of twenty-five thousand dollars. 
Would you consider . . . 

Gorham: Never. Severe breach 
of etiquette. You're aware of our 

Blacksword: Oh, naturally. But 
if I were to mail this check to your 
bank ... 

Gorham: Suit yourself. That's 
very thoughtful of you. Of course 
we can't be expected to go on keep- 
ing an eye on you. 

Blacksword: Fine. It's been a 
pleasure, Captain Gorham. Of 



course this little matter will remain 
strictly between the two of us. 

Gorham : Of course. In that case, 
I have pressing duties elsewhere. 
Nice weather you're having here. 

Blacksword: Ah! Good! 

Gorham: I'd like to be on my 

Blacksword: All right. Thank 
you very much, Captain Gorham. 

Gorham stared at him. Then he 
burst out laughing. "At least in this 
work I'll never have to worry about 
the wisdom of my orders or my su- 
perior's competence!" 


1/1 ACEDONIAN scouts kept 
-*-*-*- Troy under constant surveil- 
lance for signs of departing warcraft. 
Trojan scouts kept Macedon under 
constant surveillance for signs of 
departing warcraft. Scouts from 
neither planet saw any evidence of 
action. Scouts from both planets 
were greatly surprised, therefore, 
when they were angrily called 

The Trojans disembarked to 
find themselves under arrest. Their 
protests were answered with a very 
curt gesture. Their eyes followed 
the pointing finger. 

There was a satellite in the sky. 

No, not a satellite — it was sta- 
tionary. A large round steel thing, 
perched on nothing, far (a hundred 
miles? fifty? how big was the 
thing? ) above their capital. 

They were all subsequently 
court-martialed for gross neglect in 
the line of duty. They never under- 
stood how the thing had got there. 
But it was Macedonian, and it 
ended the war before it began. 

The assembled members of the 
Secondary Control Council of Troy 
looked up as Dictator G. Paul 
Blacksword limped briskly in. 

"Good day, gentlemen. It would 
appear negotiations are the order 
of the day." 

A councilor — Frey — stood and 
leveled a finger at him. 

"Blacksword, we hired you as 
dictator for one reason — to win the 
war against Macedon!" he shouted. 
There was loud assent. 

Blacksword continued to the 
podium. He inclined his head to 
the seated Keplar and leaned on 
the lectern a moment. Then he 
picked up the gavel and brought it 
down with a crash. The head flew 
across the room and rattled into a 
corner. He dropped the handle. 

"This meeting will come to or- 
der! Sergeant-at-arms, you will 
eject Councilor Frey unless he sits 
down in the next ten seconds." 
Blacksword regarded his watch. 

The councilor sat and immedi- 
ately shot up his hand. Blacksword 
chuckled around his cigar. 

"Okay, okay. I heard you the 
first time. No need repeating. Ob- 
viously your memory needs re- 
freshing, Councilor. You say this 
council hired me for one reason — 



to win the war against Macedon. 
Mmm? All right. 

"One: there is no war against 
Macedon, and there wasn't when 
I was hired. Two: that's not the 
way my contract reads. I was em- 
ployed to open trade with Mace- 
don and patch up a share-and- 
share-alike policy with Macedon 
concerning the three unpopulated 
worlds of this system. That correct, 
Mr. Presidor?" 

Keplar nodded without speak- 

"All right And one thing else. 
This is for you personally, Coun- 
cilor Frey, and to you personally, 
every man in this room. I demon- 
strated my faith when I threw in 
with you in the matter of Colonel 
Hines' murder. I remind you in 
passing, because you force me to, 
that we are all accessories after the 
fact in the deliberate hoodwinking 
of the authorities in that little mat- 

Frey subsided. He disdained the 
many exchanged looks on all sides. 

"Now then. There's a 'satellite' 
in our sky. It's a ship, a spherical 
ship, hovering directly over our 
capital. Thus it isn't a satellite. It's 
loaded with cobalt rockets. They're 
aimed at Troy. Whafs worse, 
they're aimed at Troy City — right 
here, gentlemen, at us. It's a Mace- 
donian ship and we have an ulti- 
matum — capitulate or go the way 
of all atoms. 

"The ship broadcast that ulti- 

matum and clammed up. It refuses 
to acknowledge contact. We are 
unable to contact Macedon be- 
cause her moon is in the way, and 
the ultimatum runs out before the 
moon's out of the way. So they 
deliberately planned this to negate 
all but personal contact. I repeat: 
capitulate or else. Are these facts 
correct, Mr. Presidor?" 

A. J. Keplar nodded unhappily. 

"All right. We have one hour and 
— umm — seven minutes. Anyone 
here not want to capitulate?" 

^HERE was a considerable 
•■• amount of noise in the council 
room. But when Blacksword 
banged his fist in lieu of the decapi- 
tated gavel and repeated the ques- 
tion, there was no answer. 

"Sergeant-at-arms, our men are 
waiting at the transmitter. Please 
inform them that they may go 
ahead and read the prepared state- 
ment I have already given them." 

Blacksword waved meatily at a 
dense cloud of smoke. "Now then. 
Their only demand is that /, per- 
sonally and unaccompanied, go to 
Macedon to discuss terms. Is there 
any objection to that?" 

"So long as you agree to noth- 
ing!" Frey cried. 

"Gentlemen, you employed me 
because you wanted me. I'm an ex- 
pert salesman. I guarantee you my 
wages against double that sum that 
I shall open trade with Macedon 
and arrive at an agreement con- 



cerning the other three worlds of 
this system. I guarantee it against 
full forfeiture of my wages. Now. 
As of the moment I sign the papers 
with Macedon, I resign as Dictator 
of Troy. That's the contract. My 
job will be done. I want my money 

The stormy Frey shouted again. 
"And what assurance have we that 
you'll carry out your duty, instead 
of vanishing with the money?" 

"Why, sir, I'm shocked. But 
since the thought had previously 
occurred to me that that thought 
might occur to you, I have pre- 
pared an agreement which Presi- 
dor Keplar and I shall co-sign. 
That way you have me. TAI will 
take over if I abscond with your 
funds. There are a half-dozen 
charges: money under false pre- 
tenses, failure to fulfill governmen- 
tal contract, so forth, so on." 

A. J. Keplar read the mutually 
binding agreement aloud. He and 
Blacksword signed it, and Black- 
sword handed it to him. Councilor 
Frey demanded it be photocopied 
and filed at once. Blacksword 
agreed, with a rueful shake of his 
head. Keplar gave him his wages, a 
check for $500,000. Blacksword 
pocketed it and winked as he shook 
Keplar's hand. 

"Gentlemen, it has been a pleas- 
ure. You will agree with me in a 
few days when the Macedonian 
ambassadors arrive. Thank you, I 
have a ship waiting to take me to 

Macedon. Oh, and Councilor Frey, 
it's my own ship." 

Blacksword tarried on Troy 
only long enough to special-deliv- 
ery the check to the Home Planet 
Bank and Trust Co. of Earth, for 
deposit only, to write himself a 
check on that bank to the amount 
of $500,000, and to mail it to the 
First Planetary Bank of Luna, for 
deposit only. 

Then he departed for Macedon. 

Approximately one hour later, 
the ever-suspicious Councilor Frey 
discovered the very interesting fact 
that the agreement Blacksword 
had brought to the meeting had 
been prepared the day before the 

appearance of the Macedonian 


THE ports of the Ebon Cutlass 
■*■ opened and disgorged two men. 
One was the pilot. The other, when 
the cigar smoke had cleared in the 
Macedonian air, proved to be G. 
Paul Blacksword, leaning lightly 
on a cane. 

A very long, very black, very 
chrome-trimmed limousine growled 
up alongside Blacksword's allegori- 
cally named ship and the chauffeur 
leaped out and opened the rear 
door. Blacksword, after a couple of 
words to his pilot, entered the car. 

"I want my ship kept clear and 
ready for takeoff," he said to the 




Til see to it, Dictator." 

"Fine. My pilot will remain with 
the ship. When I am ready to leave, 
I'll tolerate no folderol about de- 

"I'll see to it personally, Dic- 

"Thank you very much." 

The young soldier tooled the big 

car across the port to the group of 

waiting men. 

"Please start at the left and give 
me name, rank and serial number 
of those men," Blacks word said as 
they approached the party. "I think 
I remember them, but I don't want 
to miscall any names." 

"Yes, sir." Starting with General 
Dane and ending with twenty- 
three-year-old King Robert II, he 
identified the members of the 
Macedonian delegation. 

The car drew up before the 
group and Blacksword was out be- 
fore the chauffeur could open his 
own door. 

"King Robert!" Blacksword cried 
jovially. "It's certainly a pleasure 
to see you again!" 

The young monarch took Black- 
sword's extended hand impersonal- 
ly. "Dictator Blacksword," he ac- 
knowledged, and turned to his 
deputation. "I'm sure you'll re- 

Blacksword was already shak- 
ing hands down the line, calling 
each man by name. They were ob- 
viously surprised and impressed 
with his "memory." 

Reaching the end of the line, 
Blacksword swung and peered up 
at the sky. 

"It is still there, sir," General 
Dane told him quietly. 

The spherical ship bearing the 
Trojan coat of arms hung almqst 
directly above them. 

"So I see, so I see. Well, gentle- 
men, we can certainly ease our- 
selves of that burden at once. King 
Robert, have I your word that there 
will be no last-ditch attempts, once 
that warship and its bombs are re- 

"We have capitulated, sir. You 
have our word." 

"Fine. Quite sufficient, of course. 
Where's the transmitter?" 

"You cannot contact your world, 
Dictator. Our moon is in the way 
and contact will not be possible for 
nearly an hour." 

"Yes, I'm aware of that. But it 
won't be necessary to contact Troy. 
The ship is under my command, as 
are all things Trojan." 

They accompanied him, ex- 
changing looks at his brusque af- 
fability, to the transmitting room. 

T> LACKSWORD beamed at the 
•*-* operator and usurped his 
chair. "Blacksword to Ebon Cut- 
lass. Blacksword to Ebon Cutlass. 
Hey, there!" 

A face appeared hazily on the 

"Battleship Ebon Cutlass to 
Blacksword. Battleship Ebon Cut- 



lass to Blacksword. Commander 
Gorham standing by for orders, 



The Macedonians did not un- 
derstand Blacksword's chuckle. 
T. L. Gorham, formerly of Terra 
Alta Imperata, had visited Mace- 
dori only once. They recognized 
neither the name nor the static-dis- 
torted outline of his face on the 

"Disarm cobalt rockets and pull 
away from Macedon at once, Com- 
mander. Proceed according to 

"I'm sorry, sir. You'll have to 
give the code word." 

"Cry Wolf." 

"Very well, Dictator." The misty 
face disappeared. 

"Shall we watch, gentlemen?" 
Blacksword said pleasantly, and 
King Robert nodded with set lips. 
Outside, they stared up as the 
spherical craft jetted fire, shivered, 
started to move, and vanished in a 
soundless rush. Blacksword did not 
miss the Macedonian sighs. 

They proceeded to the palace in 
two cars. Blacksword waved away 
suggestions that he rest, shower, 
eat, before they began their talks, 

and they trooped into the confer- 
ence room. 

"If I am not being too imperti- 
nent, Dictator, just where was your 
ship—" General Dane gestured at 
the sky — "based? Our scouts re- 
ported no warcraft leaving the sur- 
face of Troy." 

"That must remain a military 
secret, at least until we are through 
here, General," Blacksword told 
him. "But it did arrive suddenly 
and hover directly over the capital 
at 7:30 this morning, did it not? 
And demand immediate surrender 
under pain of instant bombard- 
ment with cobalt rocket-bombs?" 

"It did," King Robert said. 
"Since there would have been 
needless and inhumane slaying of 
civilians, we chose to—" he hesi- 
tated over the word— "surrender." 

"That word is equally disagree- 
able to me, King Robert. Lefs say 
'parley' instead. There has been no 
war, and both our worlds want pre- 
cisely the same things. It will be 
quite satisfactory to Troy to for- 
get that the incident occurred. We 
can merely state 'the two govern- 
ments decided to parley without 
the needless horrors of war' in our 
press releases." 

The Macedonians registered 

"In that event, I am happy we 
were unable to contact Troy this 
morning," General Dane said. 
"This is a gesture on your part, sir, 
which we cannot fail to appreciate." 

"Fine. Now then. We want mere- 
ly three things, gentlemen. As you 
know, I am fully authorized by the 
Secondary Control Council of Troy 
to present our terms, haggle if 
I have to, and sign the necessary 
papers. Shall we begin?" Black- 
sword glanced at his watch. 



"As you will," King Robert II 

F\RAWING on his cigar, Black- 
■■-^ sword turned his head polite- 
ly to Robert's left and exhaled. 
General Dane, seated on Robert's 
left, coughed surreptitiously. 

"Well. First, we demand noth- 
ing. Not a damned thing. I mean 
that. Our expenditures have been 
slim and we have lost nothing but 
a bit of face. For that loss of face, 
or defamation of character, or 
whatever you choose to term your 
calling us—" Blacksword paused 
and frowned slightly as he quoted 
from memory — " 'heartless, blood- 
sucking aggressors dominated by a 
war-mongering council and a mega- 
lomaniac dictator' — for such cruel 
terms, we shall require restitution. 
The only way that can be made is 
through advertising. We are under- 
taking a galaxy-wide publicity 
campaign to clear ourselves." 

Blacksword drew in and blew 
out a white cloud at the ceiling. 
Still regarding the ceiling, he said, 
"That was unkind of you, gentle- 
men. 'Heartless, blood-sucking ag- 
gressors dominated by a warmon- 
gering council and a megalomaniac 
dictator!' I should like you to know 
that is untrue. I completely domi- 
nate Troy myself, and the council 
has merely carried my words to 
the people." 

The young Macedonian minis- 
ter of defense grinned and sobered 

quickly, glancing about to ascertain 
if he'd been seen. Blacksword 
leered at him. 

"As I was saying, the public re- 
lations campaign. We feel it only 
fair that Macedon should assist us 
in defraying the costs. And I reiter- 
ate that that is the only payment or 
recompense, of any kind, we — re- 

"And the amount?" Robert II 
prompted suspiciously. 

The chief speaker of Macedon's 
parliament leaned forward anxious- 


Blacksword shrugged. "We feel 
that half a million should cover it." 

"Half a million?" , 

"Yes. Million, not billion." 

"That sounds reasonable in the 
extreme, Majesty," the chief speak- 
er observed. 

"I should say!" the minister of 
defense exclaimed. 

"Agreeable," King Robert said. 
"I admit, Dictator, we had expected 
far greater demands." 

"I told you we demanded noth- 
ing. Mmm. I do have instructions 
to clear each point as we reach it, 
so please prepare the check now, 
if you will, and make it out to me. 
A token to take home, you under- 

Young Robert had appeared to 
bridle at Blacksword's pushing, but 
the final sentence satisfied him. 
"This government pays its debts in 
cash," he said with regal pride. 

Blacksword nearly dropped his 



cigar. "I suppose that will be ac- 
ceptable," he said, with a desperate 
attempt at unconcerned calm. 

The king nodded at the chief 
speaker, who sent his secretary 
arunning for the money. 

Blacksword leaned back with a 
sigh. "Now. As to Monos, Deuteros 
and Tritos, the three unpeopled 
planets of this system." 

HE Macedonians leaned for- 
ward. Robert II narrowed his 
eyes. , 

"We have drawn up an agree- 
ment concerning their exploita- 
tion," Blacksword said. He paused 
and peered at them over the tops 
of the papers he held. "Monos, 
which is fully equipped with oxy- 
gen atmosphere and the other re- 
quirements for human life, we wish 
to be colonized jointly and equally 
by Troy and Macedon, thus per- 
manently uniting our two worlds, 
and forming, with the new world, an 
interplanetary triumvirate." 

General Dane could not restrain 
himself. "Excellent!" he breathed. 

"What will be the governmental 
system of the planet?" King Robert 
asked. "And what flag will she fly?" 

Blacksword nodded. "First, we 
propose to call her Athena. Sec- 
ondly, we have designed a new coat 
of arms and flag — here you are. It's 
a combination of the symbols of 
Troy and Macedon. Thirdly, we 
propose she be governed by a Tro- 
jan-Macedonian council for two 

years. At the end of that time, she 
is to be allowed to choose her own 
system. That way we won't have 
the — 'Athenians' — rebelling." 

"Done!" Robert snapped. He 
was obviously admiring the 
sketches of the Athenian flag and 
coat of arms. Blacksword had had 
them prepared secretly on Luna 
by a professional designer. This 
had been done twelve days after 
Blacksword's arrival on Troy, five 
months before. 

"Fine. As for Deutoros and Tri- 
tos, we propose that a corporation 
be formed — Hellenistic Enter- 
prises, Inc., perhaps — for exploita- 
tion of all natural resource? of the 
worlds. The profits will be shared 
50-50 by Troy and Macedon. We 
may want to sub-contract the ac- 
tual work on a percentage basis to 
a private concern, but that can be 
settled later." 

They gaped at him. Even the. 
careful King Robert lost his com- 

"The board of directors, of 
course," Blacksword went on, glanc- 
ing at his watch, "will be composed 
of an equal number of members of 
the Trojan Council and the Mace- 
donian Parliament. I'd suggest you 
hire a businessman as president of 
the corporation." 

Robert II had taken advantage 
of the opportunity to regain his out- 
ward coolness. "Dictator Black- 
sword, Macedon agrees," he said 



"Good, good. Now here is a trade 
agreement we have drawn up 
for your approval." Blacksword 
handed him a sheet of paper. 

The monarch read it, turned it 
over, looked at Blacksword. 

Blacksword answered the un- 
spoken question. "That's all." 

Robert handed the page to the 
minister of defense. Eyebrows 
peaking, he passed it to General 

"'There shall be free trade 
among the worlds of Troy, Mace- 
don and Athena, according to the 
laws set down by Earth High Com- 
mand'," he read. 

They stared. 

"That's all. I think we're all fa- 
miliar with the TAI free-trade 
laws. And that, gentlemen, is the 
complete article of agreement." 

They continued to stare. 


ING Robert said at last, 

"Is there some point which needs 
clarification or adjustment, Majes- 
ty?" Blacksword asked innocently. 

"This - is - all?" 

"Not by a long shot. There's a 
lot of work to be done. But this is 
<all we need discuss now. The war 
did not occur, and our parley is 
finished. I am happy its results are 
so mutually satisfactory. These 
agreements and contracts, when 
filed with TAI, are binding for one 
hundred years. We will file them 
at once, of course. That way there 

can be no more disagreement be- 
tween Macedon and Troy — not 
without TAI intervention, which is 
very troublesome and expensive. 
And you and I, King Robert, will 
have the satisfaction of having 
created something which will en- 
dure after we are gone. Shall we 

They signed. 

They beamed the documents to 
TAI headquarters, where they were 
photocopied and recorded. The 
Trojan-Macedonian alliance was 
irrevocably sealed, at least for the 
next hundred years. 

The Macedonians were disap- 
pointed to learn that Blacksword, 
five fresh one-hundred-thousand- 
dollar bills in his pocket, must leave 
at once. Blacksword was sure he 
detected tears in the eyes of King 
Robert as they clasped hands. 
They were standing on the edge of 
the spaceport when Blacksword 
glanced up and saw the ship. 

It was Trojan and it bore the 
insignia of the Secondary Control 
Council and it was coming down 
very fast. 

"Gentlemen, I must hurry," he 
snapped, and hurled his bulk, along 
with cane and cigar, into the limou- 

"Get me to my ship and burn 
the paving!" he ordered. 

The car hurtled across the tar- 
mac, leaving Macedonian officials 
scratching their heads. 

As the car pulled up near the 



Ebon Cutlass, a man ran out of the 

communications room and handed 
a message to General Dane. He 
glanced up at the down-sweeping 
ship, then at the departing Black- 
sword. He disappeared into the 
communications room. 

Blacksword had both feet and 
his cane on the ground when the 
siren went off. Then the loud- 
speaker bawled in General Dane's 
voice : "Stop that man! Stop Black- 

Blacksword's chauffeur was stu- 
pefied for four seconds before he 
reached for his pistol. Four seconds 
was approximately three too long. 
Blacksword, moving twice as fast 
as a man his size would be expected 
to move, cracked the fellow along- 
side the head with the steel-filled 

Blacksword dived into his ship 
with a last backward look — a kalei- 
doscope of down-hurtling Trojan 
ship, milling Macedonian digni- 
taries, running armed men, and a 
command car full of uniforms bear^ 
ing down on the Ebon Cutlass. 

"Gun it!" he yelled, and slammed 
the port. 

The Ebon Cutlass roared off, 
leaving behind some very angry 
men of two different worlds with 
some very interesting things to say. 


COMMUNIQUE horn Black- 
sword to Gorham; 

Well done! Get our "Trojan war- 
craff and out "Macedonian war- 
craff* and all those "cobalt bombs" 
back to base and remove the fake 
insignia. They both surrendered to 
each other without knowing it till 
too late! They are now hopelessly 
allied, with no possibility of war 
for at least a century. 

A bonus has been deposited to 
your bank account, "Commander." 



T A I 


TO: G. L. Dienes 

Terra Alta Imperata 

The business with Macedon and 
Troy went off very smoothly, and 
we even recruited a new man. For- 
mer TAI captain. 

I note from recent news releases 
that both Troy and Macedon were 
so disgusted with the way their re- 
spective governments were hood- 
winked by one Blacksword, a com- 
pletely unscrupulous blackguard, 
they have fired the whole crew and 
become democracies, both of them. 
It is my understanding they also 
plan to inflict this form of govern- 
ment on the to-be-colonized world, 



Three new democracies join the 

Why in the name of heaven it is 
considered so damned important 
that every world eventually adopt 
Earth's governmental system, I'm 
sure I don't know. This observa- 
tion following dealings with such 
men as your boss, President Kear- 

It does my heart good to know 
that men like you are around to 
protect men like him from the un- 
scrupulous machinations of men 
like Blacksword. 

But so be it, and my services re- 
main available for proselytizing via 
showing them the fallacies of to- 

Since my salary is so ridiculous- 
ly inadequate, and since the Tro- 
jan affair entailed such extensive 
expense as travel, recruiting, etc., 
please forward, in the usual way, 
expenses totaling $500,000 post 
haste. No swindle sheet attached. 
Too busy to keep one. 

G. Paul Blacksword 
Top Secret Agent # 1 


DICTATOR desires employment, 
preferably permanent, in similar 
capacity. Will accept opportunity 
to establish own circumstances. 
Seven years, five months experi- 
ence. Last position terminated at 
request of populace. Box 702 GBS 








A publishing business parable goes something like this: A publisher, 
irritated by there never having been a book free of errors from Gutenberg 
on down, hired 364 proofreaders to proofread the 364 pages of a book 
he was publishing. When the book had been proofread 364 times and 
finally came off the press, he held it proudly and said: "At last, the per- 
fect book!" 

And then he noticed that the title on the cover was misspelled. 

We don't claim that the October issue of this magazine could match 
that exorbitant care, but we can indeed match the catastrophe on that cover. 
To all the letter-writers and phoners who brought to our attention the fact 
that "Science Fiction" and "35#" appeared on the October cover, we can 
but explain that we went back to a plant that used to do our engraving, but 
which unfortunately still had our old logotype. Result: chaos. 

The price is surprinted on this issue, since two covers are always printed 
together, and since publishing economics just won't allow a magazine of 
this size to be manufactured at anything like 35#. 

Financially, the error hurts badly, but there is a possible plus: we can 
now find out if "Science Fiction" on the cover helps or hurts sales. 



(Continued from page 7) 
that we are unable to comment on, 
except to wonder why not sons as 
well, and fathers? 

A marked copy of the Pittsburgh 
Sun-Telegraph points to a feature 
called "The Squirrel Cage" by 
Douglass Welch reporting that 
"The dour and insolent machine 
which dispenses hot canned foods 
in the building in which we work 
gave away all its baked beans 
(with pork) and all its frankfur- 
ters and sauerkraut the other day; 
and our fellow-employees were ju- 
bilant. The following morning the 
machine which stands beside it — 
a big yellow monster with a single 
red baleful eye — suddenly gave 
up all its hot coffee, like an ex- 
cited puppy. This occasioned a 
roar of laughter from the shallow- 
thinking humans who saw it; but 
we didn't laugh. To us it seemed 
more sinister than funny. 'Oh, 
come, Welch/ we can already hear 
you saying, *these are merely iso- 
lated instances. These are not sig- 
nificant.' All right. A machine 
working for the federal govern- 
ment in Chicago has been sending 
checks for $24,785.06 to an elder- 
ly couple in Payallup, Wash. This 
couple is entitled to receive only 
$147.80 a month in old-age and 
survivor's-insurance payments. The 
machine types out the right ad- 
dress but persists in misspelling the 
last name 'Evans' as 'Evcnx.' Evans 
has sent back three checks and a 

protesting letter with each of them. 
And what happens? Another ma- 
chine in Chicago receives the 
checks and reads the letters with a 
wide, knowing smile — and does 
nothing ... So the bean machine 
gives away beans; the coffee ma- 
chine gives away coffee; and the 
check-writing machine gives away 
money. Somewhere in the United 
States, disguised possibly as a sim- 
ple gum-dispenser on a subway 
station platform, is the super-brain 
machine which is directing all 
this." In this column, copyright 
1958 by King Features Syndicate 
Inc., and perhaps others we have 
not seen, Mr. Welch is a valued 
joiner of our outnumbered posse, 
for The Statistical Abstract of the 
United States, 1955 edition, says 
George H. Scithers, Stanford, Cal., 
adds up 104,219 more wives than 
husbands in the U.S. (Widows and 
divorcees are tabulated separate- 
ly.) And John Harper, Maple 
Shade, N. J., warns that everybody 
now alive will be gone, as far as 
we know, by 2075 at the latest — 
an unprecedented 2V£ billion 
deaths — and urges us to reproduce 
to offset the slaughter. 

We say no. Human cells are 
completely replaced every six 
years. One day all those discarded 
cells are going to get together and 
leave no room for cars, vanished or 
otherwise, aliens, machines, or sur- 
plus wives. 

— H. L. GOLD 



The BEMs 
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The umteenth corollary of Finagle's 
General Law of Dynamic Negatives 
states: "No books are lost by loaning 
except the ones you particularly 
want to keep." 



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